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Pittman finds value in underdog role

Don’t give Sam Pittman a pat on the back yet. His blue-collar approach is what is driving Arkansas in their quest to the top of the SEC.

NCAA Football: SEC Media Days Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

A question was asked at SEC Media Days on Wednesday to Arkansas head coach, Sam Pittman, if his Razorback team had ‘arrived’ after last season’s performance. Pittman took in the two-part question and immediately dismissed the notion that his team had arrived.

Over and over, Pittman tells media, fans and the college football world that the Hogs are ‘blue-collar’, ‘hard workers’ and the ‘underdog’. He wants to keep it that way in order to squeeze every ounce of talent, will and determination out of his team.

It hasn’t been long ago since the Razorbacks won seven games in a three year span. That same program had lost 20-straight SEC games in that same stretch from 2017-2020. Three different head coaches and one interim coach contributed to the long losing streak that was eventually snapped against Mississippi State in Starkville.

After the 21-14 victory over the Bulldogs, Pittman coined a phrase that still sits well with his team today.

“Who we have is all we need,” said Pittman before the locker room celebration and another famous quote.

Back to the arrived talk, Pittman doesn’t believe his team has arrived. As good of a nine-win season they had in 2021 has nothing to do with what they will do in 2022 and the Head Hog will tell you that, too.

“No. Oh, no, no, no, no. Arkansas is just trying to compete,” said Pittman. We’re trying to get better. We’re trying to fight hard. We’re trying to work hard. We’re the underdog. We like it that way.

Fighting hard is something the Hogs have done since Pittman became head coach of the Hogs. He worked his way to this position from his days as a stud offensive line coach all the way to learning from Kirby Smart, who equipped him with the ability to take the reins of his dream job. That’s coaching the Razorbacks.

In the words of Ric Flair: “To be the man, you have to beat the man.”

It’s highly likely that Pittman and his Hogs don’t believe they have arrived yet because they haven’t beat the man...Alabama just yet. Or, defending national champion, Georgia.

Beating Texas is one thing. So was ending the streaks against Texas A&M and LSU. Starting 4-0 and being ranked in the top-10 for the first time since 2012 was impressive. However, Pittman won’t say they have arrived yet and I won’t tell him differently. We will know when the Razorbacks have arrived and will be a sweet moment.

Jacob Davis is the managing editor of Arkansas Fight. Give him a follow on Twitter @jacobscottdavis for up-to-date Razorback, SEC and college sports coverage.