Pittman fond of his brief stint at Kansas

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman watches his team warm up before playing Mississippi during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

MEMPHIS — Arkansas coach Sam Pittman has plenty of ties to the state of Kansas.

From 1991-93 he coached at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, including two seasons as head coach. Nearly a decade later, Pittman was hired as the offensive line coach at Kansas.

Pittman played college football at Pittsburg (Kan.) State, where he was a first team NAIA All-American and twice selected as an all-conference performer. His wife, Jamie, is from Pittsburg.

It has made for an interesting holiday season for the Razorbacks’ third-year head coach, who has prepared Arkansas in recent weeks to play the Jayhawks at Wednesday’s Liberty Bowl.

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“You go home at Christmas and, you know, you hear either, ‘KU’s going to stomp you,’ or, ‘You can’t let them beat us. I’ve got to live up here,’” Pittman said Tuesday. “I mean, (winning the game is) kind of important to me, too.

“I know it’s important to everybody, but, you know, it’s important to me and our staff and our players. But yes, it’s fun, and especially against Kansas.”

Pittman said he and Jamie traveled last weekend to Kansas for Christmas. The KU graduates he ran into were excited about the Jayhawks’ success and the fact he would be facing them this postseason.

“Honestly, I’m excited for them,” Pittman said. “I just want to win the game. I’ve got, on Jamie’s side of the family, a lot of KU grads, and they’ve got a good school up there.”

Toward the end of his Tuesday press conference, Pittman was asked about his stint with Kansas in 2001, which followed one season at Missouri. It was brief.

Pittman was fond of the time in Lawrence, Kan., although he said the staff was fired that season shortly after the team became ineligible for a bowl game. The Jayhawks finished 3-8 overall and 1-7 in the Big 12.

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“Terry Allen was the coach. We'd gotten fired at Missouri, and I was down getting some chew at the gas station — for my wife,” Pittman joked. “But then I got a call from Terry, and he said, 'Come on over.' And I went over there and interviewed with him. I had never had a two-year contract and I asked for one, and he gave it to me.

“I mean, it was a shock, and he gave it to me. He told me the money and I asked for more. Now, that's how dumb I am. I didn't have a job, so I shouldn't have done any of those things, and he gave it to me. And we really liked it in Lawrence.”

Pittman added that Roy Williams, the now-retired college basketball coach who won three national championships at North Carolina and led Kansas’ program for 15 seasons, was late in his tenure with the Jayhawks at the same time he was in Lawrence. The two had a good relationship, Pittman said.

Being a few hours from Grove, Okla., where he went to high school, also allowed his parents to come to games. It was a big deal for Pittman.

“That's what I remember about that,” he said. “But that was one very short year there as we got let go. We didn't win enough games.”