Andy Hodges

Pittman probably won’t be making excuses, regardless with practices start

With the uncertain starting time for college football up in the air, some coaches will use whatever it is as an excuse if they don’t win as expected, but that probably won’t include Sam Pittman.

With a rather weird version of spring break now in the rearview mirror, no spring sports all of the attention is going to focus on football, which we don’t even know is going to happen at all this year.

The bottom line is nobody really knows anything for certain.

Coaches are all over the place. Some, like Brian Kelly at Notre Dame, have tried to throw out a drop-dead date of July 1 for college football’s season to start. That’s his opinion.

ESPN’s Kirk Herbsteit said he doesn’t see any football happening this year because there “has” to be a vaccine before they can start that. Again, that’s his opinion and news on the advancement of vaccines and treatments could far ahead of previous predictions.

Don’t expect a lot of clarity from the NCAA, either. This week they went said it was okay to grant another year of eligibility for athletes in spring sports … but they didn’t do much more than just give schools the go-ahead to figure it out for themselves.

A lot of these coaches want to maintain their “edge” and get players back into the “culture.” The guess here is losing all that is more of a concern than anything else.

They may want it, but they may have to deal with what they get.

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman is okay with that.

“We’re not going to harp on that,” Pittman said over a week ago before the school’s official spring break week started. “There’s some concern about all that stuff, but you can’t do anything about it.”

You got the idea he just wants to have any kind of interaction with his players and an actual football. By missing all of spring, he still hasn’t had anything with a ball involved.

Instead of worrying about what it may be, Pittman’s just going to deal with the way it is and make the best of it. He’s done that before.

“I was a head high school coach at three at three different schools and maybe you go back to something like that,” he said. “Everybody will be in the same boat.”

Which is not what some of the coaches want, whether they’ll say it publicly or not. They spent years getting a program built with their own routine and now the whole dang thing is going to be disrupted for several months.

That drives coaches crazy.

Pittman wanted spring practice and time with his players to just find out more about them, how to coach them.

He isn’t going to use a later start as any sort of excuse.

“If they said you couldn’t have anything and just have the regular time you have in August — just Tuesday, Wednesday practice — you’re going to practice about half your season before the first game starts,” he said.

He admitted it might slow down the pace of installing new things like offenses and defenses under new coordinators, but then again when he was coaching high school that’s basically what they did every year.

Older high school coaches will remember the days when they had to spend every preseason practice teaching half the team everything from how to put on a uniform to whether the ball was blown up or stuffed.

Pittman won’t have that issue.

Maybe the closest thing to this is looking at when the NFL had strike years that wiped out big parts of the regular season in 1982 and 1988. Especially 1987 when nine games were wiped off the regular-season slate.

In 1987 there was just one game lost in the regular season, but replacement games with (literally in some cases) walk-on players caused two of the more interesting seasons in pro football history.

The product on the field wasn’t as high of quality those seasons, but it was interesting.

This may be an incredibly interesting year in college football.

Some coaches will complain for at least a year about the problems.

Those are the ones expected to win a lot of games, but didn’t. There will be some of that, regardless when things get restarted in college football.

It’s called an excuse disguised as a reason.

The guess here is Pittman doesn’t plan on using either one of those.

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