Sam Pittman has a long list of possible preseason excuses for his first year as Arkansas football coach, maybe the most obvious being he’s been on the job for half a year and hasn’t coached a practice.
That will change in about three weeks.
Fans and many in the media have spent years coming up with one excuse after another for a dismal football program.
Some, including the top of the entire UA system, were leading the charge along with many media people to try and talk themselves into believing a 6-6 record in 2014 followed by 7-5 was somehow justification to allow an inept athletics director to give a doofus coach a new contract to hamstring an entire program.
Nothing is more dangerous than providing people a good excuse for their own failure.
“We look at what we can do moving forward,” Pittman said in a Zoom press conference last month.
Arkansas football has had that by the bunches from fans and media for several years.
Pittman hasn’t made a single excuse. He knows the situation he walked into and, in fact, he sold the folks doing the hiring he wanted the job and could do it better than anybody else.
Whether he can follow through on that or not won’t be known for awhile, but now the common theme for low expectations is a low talent level.
It’s not that low.
The staff together now would have won at least seven games the last two seasons in my opinion primarily because the head coach started confused and never got much help from an offensive coordinator with no experience and a defensive coordinator that probably retired a few years before and just didn’t tell anybody.
About the only positive is the number of freshmen he kept the redshirt on last season. Add in what Pittman has added with graduate transfers and his first recruiting class and, yes, there’s talent on the roster.
Maybe not enough to sweep through Alabama, Auburn or LSU but enough to get a win over some other teams on the schedule.
Coaching is important. If nothing else, Arkansas fans have seen that over the previous eight seasons, going all the way from 11-2 in 2011 to 4-20 over the past two seasons.
Maybe the most glaring things over the last two seasons has been eight quarterbacks over two years, you can’t get the ball into the hands of your biggest playmakers at the right time and a defense that couldn’t stop far lesser teams.
The problems the last three seasons haven’t been about not having players. Don’t tell me Colorado State, San Jose or Western Kentucky had better players top to bottom. Coaching cost them multiple SEC games over two years.
Now Pittman just has to show he can put together a staff that can coach teams to win.
If he can’t, well, there shouldn’t be excuses and there probably won’t be from Pittman.
And, hopefully, nobody else.