It would be hard to find someone more nervous than Sam Pittman over the next few days as he is finally within shouting distance of getting to coach a game at Arkansas.
With the Covid-19 testing three times a week, Pittman is holding his breath.
“That’s been more of a concern than anything,” he said on his radio show from The Catfish Hole on Wednesday evening.
We have no idea how many players have had positive tests, but it’s a fairly safe assumption none have been hospitalized and nobody has died. I can guarantee you we would have heard about that.
“We’re back,” Pittman said. “We’re not completely back, but we’ll have almost all of our football team.”
Figuring out how to deal with the health concerns has been the biggest thing for every coach in the SEC and, apparently, they have all done about as well as possible managing it to get to the point where a season may actually happen.
You couldn’t get a lot of folks just a few months ago that believed it was even possible.
Yet here it is.
“We all were kinda on our toes throughout the summer and knowing we have a game this weekend is amazing,” linebacker Bumper Pool said via telephone on the show. “This team did a great job keeping a positive attitude about it.”
In a season where the biggest questions off the field can’t be answered, we may get some ideas about actual on-field things Saturday against Georgia.
The reality is we may have even more questions after that game, but that will be about what happens from that game.
Pittman has dealt with the increased media exposure all week and what does come shining through is how the Razorbacks finally have a coach that actually wants to be here.
“I’m so excited to be a head coach in the SEC and at the University of Arkansas,” he said at his first SEC Teleconference on Wednesday morning.
He’s been saying the same thing since the December day when he got the job.
Apparently the players have picked up on that, too.
“It’s spread throughout our whole team and the pride to be a Razorback,” was how Pool talked about Pittman’s enthusiasm for the job.
Before the start of any season, everybody — us in the media, fans and even the coaches — are really just guessing about what they think is going to happen.
Nobody knows, especially this year with no spring practices and more time in front of a computer than on the practice field.
The time for all that is fast coming to a screeching halt and Pool made it pretty clear the players understand that.
“At the end of the day we’re just playing football,” he said Wednesday night. “Yes, the world is crazy and so much of it is out of our hands but let’s control what we can control.”
That simple statement alone just sounds different from what we’ve heard the last couple of years.
“As a unit we’re well ahead of where everybody thinks we are,” Pool said. “Words are just words. You can’t put those things to bed until you go and prove yourself.
“We’re better as a group than we have been in awhile.”
No bold predictions. No statements where Pool sounded like he was trying to convince himself more than anybody else. Just a quiet confidence.
As subtle as that is it speaks loudly about the changes … if it shows up on the field.