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Andy Hodges

Pittman’s recruiting goals nice, but development will be more critical

Sam Pittman wants to shoot Arkansas into the elite level of recruiting, which is a nice goal, but history shows that probably isn’t going to be a realistic goal.



Sam Pittman wants to shoot Arkansas into the elite level of recruiting, which is a nice goal, but history shows that probably isn’t going to be a realistic goal.

Coaching what he gets is more important.

Recruiting season has developed a cult-like following with a lot of people living and dying with every offer, commitment or de-commitment.

“We should be up there with the elite programs in the country in recruiting,” Pittman said last week talking about his first class, which ended up not being that bad and not that far off where the Razorbacks usually finish.

In the composite rankings (from the major recruiting services), the Hogs have finished in the Top 25 twice and the Top 10 once over the last 20 years.

Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino found ways to get the Hogs into the championship picture over-performing their recruiting rankings.

You got the idea Pittman’s probably not going to be completely satisfied on signing day going forward.

“We’re not up there with the elite guys,” Pittman said. “Until we get up there, well then, when we do that we’ll come in here and be really happy.”

In case you’re wondering, that’s not a signal he doesn’t expect to win ballgames. Arkansas has had success when higher-rated teams stumble somewhere along the way and they are right there to slip through the opening.

With the exception of a couple of years in 1964-65, the Razorbacks have needed some conference teams to stumble along the way.

Those two years, by the way, are the only ones where they ran the table and that was in the old Southwest Conference where you only had to figure out how to deal with Texas.

In the SEC West, unless you catch lightning in a bottle similar to what LSU did this past season, there can be one loss and still play for a championship. Alabama won titles in 2017 and 2011 after not going to Atlanta.

The Hogs have never won with recruiting highly-ranked classes. They have won with a coaching staff that got players they wanted, then developed them (Steve Spurrier used to call it “coaching ’em up”) and had them ready to play on Saturday.

The guess here is that’s going to be what Pittman does best. If he’s going to be consistently on the winning side in games, it’s what he better do best.

The Hogs play in a conference where they can win 10 games in a season and still end up third … in their own division. It happened in 2006, 2010 and 2011 so don’t say that won’t happen.

Shoot, at this point Pittman will be ahead of the game if he can settle on one quarterback for three games in a row. That would be progress.

Yeah, he wants to have a higher ranking on signing day. Whether he’ll say it or not it’s part of the public relations game. Fans want to see it.

“We just didn’t quite have as much time as we wanted, but we’ll do better,” Pittman said about this signing class.

While he obviously would relish the thought of having a class ranked in the Top 10 every year, Pittman also knows in the end it’s not the most important thing.

Winning with whatever’s on the team is what matters the most.

We’ll see how this staff does but the gut feeling is they would have had the Hogs in a bowl game the last couple of years. Yes, the previous staff was that bad.

A lack of preparation combined with a lack of motivation can coach a team all the way down to just a couple of struggle wins over teams they should have beaten by four touchdowns.

All that nonsense is gone.

Regardless of any recruiting ranking.



  1. George Lasher

    February 10, 2020 at 11:49 pm

    Good job, Andy. But Sam will consistently recruit top 15 – 20 classes, or better, every year for Arkansas. So let it be written. So let it be done. The only thing that can possibly stop him is his health. The man is a classic workaholic.

  2. David Porter

    February 11, 2020 at 8:40 am

    Just because a guy is a 5 star in high school doesn’t mean he’ll be an All-American in college. There are lots and lots of examples of 5 star busts. BUT, if you look at Alabama, LSU, Clemson, and others, if you get enough 4 and 5 stars who work with 5 star coaches, it’s a lot easier.

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