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Andy Hodges

Cancelling spring football could level fall’s field for Hogs … by just a little bit

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman having to deal with a lot of questions without answers coming … or even an idea about when the answers might arrive.



Yes, everybody is bored to death with no spring football going on as originally scheduled, but it might not be that big of a reason to worry for Arkansas fans.

I’ll spare everyone a recitation of the facts because we’re all aware of the global health concerns that have caused it. For Razorback fans, though, this could offer a benefit once games start back.

“Everybody will be in the same boat,” Hogs coach Sam Pittman said last week in a teleconference before this week’s spring break.

That means, simply, he and his coaching staff will be at roughly the same point when the season starts everybody else is and there is the possibility nobody will really have a clue what’s going to happen in September.

He pointed out several other teams will already know their players pretty well. Two other teams in the SEC West (Ole Miss and Mississippi State) are also breaking in new coaches.

What he didn’t say is the coaches know their talent after a full spring practice followed by player-led workouts during the summer that can’t be coached, but are handled with some guidelines from the staff.

Mainly it’s the spring practice and supervised conditioning and strength training where coaches get the barometer on their players.

Just these few weeks leading up to academic finals and a small break before summer classes (if that’s even a possibility at this point) will change the entire landscape of college athletics for this season.

Look at it this way: What schools have been building with few disruptions since World War II ended has now suddenly been halted. One thing that is true is it doesn’t take as long for something to fall apart after decades of building.

“The season is long as it is, so I don’t know,” Pittman said. “The kids will still need a break before that first August 1 deal because now we’re at 12 games, and some teams  are at 14, some at 15.”

Those are really just 14 teams. If you don’t make the playoffs you’ll play 12 … or 13 if you can manage to win half of the 12.

This is where coaching high school ball decades ago comes in handy for Pittman. That’s when a lot of high schools started over from nearly scratch every year and didn’t see much of them until August rolled around.

In the world of college football these days they get over a season’s worth of practices in August before the first game and you get the idea from Pittman the Hogs will be ready for Nevada on Sept. 5.

“I just don’t know if we can start much faster than we do now,” Pittman said. “I’m talking about practice. Obviously you are doing a lot in the summer with the lifting and 7-on-7s and those type of things, but you are not able to coach the 7-on-7’s.”

He’s taking a pragmatic approach. He can’t do anything about it, but he’s confident his staff will have a team ready.

“We’ll do whatever they tell us to, and we’ll do it and be happy about it,” he said. “I don’t know how we can go longer than what we are now.”

Fans, already starting to get antsy with a disruption that is less than two weeks old, will be squirming like the kid who got called out by the preacher for talking in Sunday service.

Pittman is just dealing with what comes every day. After taking a little break this week (they had already calculated some downtime for spring break), it’s a matter of getting some questions answered.

“It’s gone from when can we have our 15 practices to now it’s, can we get 10 in … can we get eight in?” he said last week. “What about the teams that have had practices before us? How long of a period do we need in conditioning before we got out there to practice?

“All those things have been talked about. I don’t know about when August starts and we roll out the ball and get ready.”

A lot of questions without answers coming … or even an idea about when the answers might arrive.


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