Arkansas secondary coach Deron Wilson’s first contract with the Razorbacks is for …
Don't forget November
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman (left) shakes hands with LSU coach Brian Kelly following the Razorbacks' 13-10 loss to the Tigers on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Frank Broyles long ago uttered the college football truism, "They remember November."
It haunts Sam Pittman today.
Unlike Broyles’ Razorbacks who were unbeaten in November from 1959-62, 1964-66, 1968-70 and 1975, Pittman’s 6-6 Hogs closed November down 1-3.
No sugar coating 1-3, even with the win being a 42-27 Fayetteville flogging of then-No. 14 Ole Miss.
And the three losses totaled but seven points to then-No. 23 Liberty (21-19), then-No. 7 SEC West champion LSU (13-10) and at Missouri (29-27).
Hugh Freeze-coached Liberty carried national weight, yet was perceived by fans a non-conference rent-a-win.
The rent-a-wins that Pittman predecessor Chad Morris kept losing, more demising his 2-10 campaigns than never winning a SEC game.
With the 2020 revamped, entirely SEC schedule, Pittman’s 3-7 debut — 4-6 but for a SEC admitted officiating error at Auburn — instantly made him a homespun Hog hit.
Pittman’s popularity soared with a 9-4 season last year, including 4-4 in the SEC. Nonconference, Arkansas trounced Texas and in the Outback Bowl beat Penn State. Those Hogs also beat Rice, Georgia Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Lesser light types like North Texas and San Jose State that so embarrassed Morris before the 45-19 debacle to Western Kentucky canned the coach with two 2019 games remaining.
Liberty was far higher caliber, but nonetheless scheduled to oblige homecoming.
Minus injured starting quarterback KJ Jefferson, the loss to LSU would have been a moral victory in Morris days.
Not so deemed by Pittman.
And though only losing by two at Mizzou, Pittman said physically, “They whipped our butt. That’s what happened.”
Some restive Razorbacks fans more than concurred. The grumbling is a plus to a point. It shows fans still care rather than passively attuned to losing since the Bret Bielema era closed 4-10 prior to the Morris mishaps.
But before tossing the baby out with the bathwater, Arkansas fans need remembering those years when they would have craved to be 6-6 and bowl bound like these Hogs.
They need perspective that the SEC’s biggest stay put and hiring stories for 2022, Lane Kiffin, granted a king’s ransom to stay at Ole Miss after courted by Auburn, and Freeze, liberated from Liberty by Auburn, also suffered 1-3 forgettable Novembers.
Second-year Tennessee Coach Josh Heupel and LSU first-year Coach Brian Kelly 2022 co-reigned as the SEC’s most surprisingly successful coaches.
Yet imagine even they heard direly discouraging words. Two weeks ago, now 10-2 Tennessee was shocked, 63-38 at South Carolina.
Last week the then 4-7 Texas A&M Aggies lashed LSU, 38-23.
Seems other than No. 1 Georgia, no SEC team has a November entirely fondly to remember.
And that, Arkansas fans shouldn’t forget.
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