FAYETTEVILLE — Tonight the first “Sam Pittman Live” from the Catfish Hole will be held and it will very likely be a great event.
It brings a little normalcy to a year when anything but normal has been the case. But tonight could have been a great night with or without the normalcy.
Pat Gazzola was a super fan of the Razorbacks and worked hard to get crowds to the Catfish Hole in both good and bad seasons. He was taken from this earth on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017.
What many may or may not have known probably Pat’s favorite assistant coach at the University of Arkansas was Sam Pittman. Pat and I ate together probably 200 of the 365 days in a year and very seldom did I not see the glow in Pat’s eyes when he talked about Pittman.
Oh don’t get me wrong, Pat was like any other fan he would get angry when the Hogs lost and overjoyed when they won. But when he spoke of Pittman it was never anything but glowing terms.
He loved to tell the story of how Pittman was a great recruiter because he felt like he had the best job in the country. Pat would say Sam doesn’t believe you can recruit successfully if you don’t feel you have the best job in the country.
To understand how strongly Pat loved Pittman and appreciated him you have to put in it perspective. Of the years knowing Pat since 1997, there was days you probably wished you didn’t know him. When Pat was mad he was difficult to be around. I argued with him at first on subjects, but then after a year or so I figured out I wasn’t gonna win any of those arguments so I agreed with Pat to save time and arguments.
The three people I never heard Pat utter one discouraging word about was Pittman, LeBron James and Wilt Chamberlain. If you thought Kobe Bryant was better than LeBron you were wasting your time to tell Pat that. If you thought Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Shaquille O’Neal were better that Wilt once again save your breath. Pat never lost an argument in his mind ask Janie.
Pat loved what Pittman brought to the UA and appreciated his recruiting efforts. He would call me and tell Pittman came by the Catfish Hole and you could just hear the excitement in his breath.
The one time I heard sadness and disappointment in Pat’s voice was when he called me and said Sam is leaving and going to Georgia. Pat was genuinely hurt, but still was very understanding of Pittman’s reasoning and once again never said anything but great things about Pittman and talked about how he would be missed at Arkansas. And Pat was 100-percent correct on that.
Pittman was missed, but he’s back now and his first live show will be tonight. It’s just sad that Pat won’t be there with a smile as wide as humanly possible to watch and host it. Pat missed Sam being at Arkansas and many of us still miss Pat not being here to call and ask to come eat with him or who the Hogs might land in recruiting.