Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Pittman: UA ahead of game on return
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman speaks Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, during a press conference to discuss the early signing period at the Fred W. Smith Football Center on the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The takeaway message from first-year University of Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman during his stint on Thursday night's One Razorback Road Show was the football program is ready to reopen for business.
"We're ready for any day they'll let our kids come back to campus, certainly with safety No. 1 on our mind," Pittman said via video teleconference streamed on Facebook and Twitter. "We're ready, and the reason we're ready is because [the athletic department is] ready. They've given us a great plan and a great outline for us to get our kids back on campus."
Pittman and Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek both appeared on the third edition of the show, which is taking place because the covid-19 pandemic put a hiatus on a planned tour of the state by UA officials originally scheduled for this month.
Both men referenced today's meeting of SEC chancellors and presidents in which direction will be given regarding the proposed June 1 opening of athletic training and weight room facilities on campuses across the SEC.
"Friday, the SEC presidents will have their weekly meeting and they will vote on what will happen when the May 31 suspension of all athletic-related activities concludes," Yurachek said. "At the University of Arkansas, we're prepared to open our facilities on a voluntary basis to our student-athletes as of June 1."
"I know there are some members across the Southeastern Conference who are also prepared the same way. We're all in a different spot across our conference, but one of the things that really makes the Southeastern Conference is we do things collectively together. So whether that date is June 1 or June 15 or July 1, we'll work together and do what's best from a conference standpoint."
Pittman said the football program's readiness to allow athletes back in the weight room is similar to its plan when the coronavirus suspension hit March 13.
"Our plans are for June 1 and if they tell us [today] that we're not able to do that until June 15, we'll be ready," Pittman said. "We were ready with our video the day they said our kids need to go home. We were ready. We had a whole laptop full of video. We've been, in my opinion, ahead of the game -- ahead of this situation with different plans. A lot of the credit for that goes to our athletic director."
Pittman reiterated the remarks made by offensive line coach Brad Davis to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, that the coaching staff is eager to find out which players have spent the past two months working on strength, stamina and conditioning.
"We've given them three different workouts as far as the strength part goes, and one as far as the running part goes, and the key word here is trust," Pittman said. "I mean, you have to trust that your players are doing what you're asking them to do. If they're coming from an environment they're proud of, an environment they like, I think they're going to work out and you're not going to have to micromanage them. We trust our players.
"We can't get video back from them or anything like that. 'Are you working out?' We can't do that. So we choose to trust. Our big thing is, 'Why can't you come back in better shape than if you were here? If you're really driven, if you're a self-motivator, you're going to come back in as quality of shape as you possibly can.' We choose to trust that our players are going to do that."
Sports on 05/22/2020
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