Andy Hodges

Pittman can’t control shutdown so Hogs’ coaches just keep working

Sam Pittman can’t control the ongoing shutdown, but he and a coaching staff that still doesn’t know the shortcuts around Fayetteville are staying focused on recruiting.

Coaches don’t deal well with things they can’t control and it was clear Friday morning in a teleconference with new Arkansas boss hog Sam Pittman that he’s not really different.

He can’t control the ongoing shutdown over the national health emergency. But he and a coaching staff that still doesn’t know the shortcuts around Fayetteville are staying focused on recruiting.

If successful, that may prove as beneficial as spring practice.

“We are trying to put a stampede on recruiting,” he said.

The way it sounds, if what he’s doing works the first year was doing the best he could with the hand he was dealt, improving things for 2021 and taking a huge leap in 2022. At least that’s what it appears to be how it’s playing out.

“You can either sit around and not do anything or you can recruit,” Pittman said. “There’s a lot of ways to get out of where we are right now. The number one way is to recruit.”

That’s not a new phrase. Razorback fans have heard that through the last two coaching staffs, who proved for the most part they didn’t have a clue how to really accomplish that.

Pittman saw it up close as Bret Bielema’s offensive line coach and the best recruiter on that staff.

He had an offensive lineman from a bordering state whose parents packed up the family and made trips to Fayetteville — on their dime — for two separate weekends. Bielema wanted to meet him before allowing Pittman to extend an offer.

And Bielema disappeared both weekends, one of them when he didn’t tell anybody he flew out of town on a junket to a casino out of state.

While he won’t say it, it’s a good bet the many stories like that is why Georgia looked very attractive when Kirby Smart called in 2015.

That player, by the way, has gone on to be a multi-year starter in the SEC on an offensive line.

Based on what I’ve seen from the folks that follow recruiting, the Hogs have put out 165 offers for 2021 players that are high school juniors right now. Coaches aren’t going to get every player they offer, obviously, but they aren’t going to get any they DON’T offer.

But, apparently, they were running a little behind on 2022 offers to current sophomores.

“The last two, maybe three days we made a big push for 2022 kids,” Pittman said.

Again, the recruiting guys are saying Arkansas has sent out 55 offers to 2022 recruits and 10 in the past few days.

And in-state recruits appear to be a priority and he knows getting on them early is important to close the borders around the state.

“We just don’t want to miss anybody in Arkansas,” Pittman said, adding that he’s hands-on with those players. “We want to be right when we offer them, so I feel like on those I have to be every bit a part of that offer. I have to be on all of them.”

His focus on sophomores has apparently gotten other teams’ attention, too.

“There were other schools that followed suit right with us on the same eight people, so hopefully people looking at us in recruiting and what we’re doing and that would be a compliment,” Pittman said.

For fans starving for anything sports-related these days, hearing a football coach that actually has a plan that could work is refreshing.

But Pittman knows he’s gotta make it work.

Which involves continuing to work, although he is planning on some downtime next week. That was originally scheduled for spring break and was going to be a break from spring practice anyway.

“We are going to the Bahamas at my address in Fayetteville,” Pittman said. “I’m going to heat the pool up, to be honest with you. There might be a whale sighting out there. It’s just me, nobody shoot. It’s just me.

“I’m going to have a good time. We’re not leaving town.”

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