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One thing is the same: Pittman is still Pittman

By: Wally Hall Wally Hall's Twitter account
Published: Thursday, July 20, 2023
Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman speaks during NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Wednesday, July 19, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman speaks during NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Wednesday, July 19, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It has long been said money and fame change people. If that is the case with Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman, it is minimal.

Sure, he bought Jamie, his wife, her dream home on Lake Hamilton that is being completely remodeled, including the apartment over the garage where they have stayed while the work was done on the main house, but they always intended to retire there anyway.

Yet, their favorite place to eat is on their boat, although the names of restaurants in Hot Springs rolls off his tongue, including Bugler’s at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

Pittman loves horse racing but admitted with a smile, “I’m not very good at picking ’em.”

Minutes before he was to meet with members of the Arkansas media, prior to his scheduled appearance Wednesday at SEC football media days, he stood in a doorway and tied his tie while chatting with the media.

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Actually, the tie frustrated him a bit and after several tries and it being too short for his tastes, he adjourned to the restroom so he could see what he was doing in a mirror.

Pittman is not vain and probably isn’t crazy about wearing a tie, but he was proud of the players and how they looked.

KJ Jefferson, Raheim Sanders and Landon Jackson changed into Hart Schaffner and Marx suits that the university buys from Dillard’s.

“I like how we look,” Pittman said, and he didn’t just mean off the field.

Jefferson went with a brown suit and loafers, Sanders wore a gray suit with a pattern and tennis shoes, and Jackson had on a black suit with white tennis shoes.

Jefferson is one of only a few veteran quarterbacks back this season in the SEC and he’s the team leader, offensive and defensive. Under new offensive coordinator Dan Enos, he is expected to pass more this season.

Sanders was the second-leading rusher in the SEC last season.

Jackson had a great spring and the junior who transferred from LSU after his freshman season is being counted on heavily at defensive end.

At 6-7 and up to 280 pounds, all muscle, Jackson was one of the most imposing figures at media days and when asked what size suit he was wearing, he said, “I don’t remember, just say big.”

In a casual minute ,Pittman talked about Sanders and Jackson gaining 10 and 44 pounds, respectively, and not losing any speed. But it is always obvious Pittman cares about his players 24-7, and in return they play hard for him.

And they’ll need to with a schedule that includes four consecutive road games{ at LSU, Texas A&M in Arlington, at Ole Miss and at Alabama. Most likely all four will be top 25 teams.

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“Yeah, that’s a tough stretch,” Pittman said, but didn’t belabor the point. He’s not a complainer and probably doesn’t fist bump a lot of whiners.

With his good-guy demeanor firmly in place, Pittman won the news conference in front of more than 300 media types.

He talked about the transfer portal, saying Arkansas had benefited from it and he talked about working on himself to be a better coach — like learning more about analytics and going for it on fourth down, which drew a laugh.

It was suggested with the passing of Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach that Pittman has replaced him as football’s most colorful and entertaining coach.

“I couldn’t come close,” Pittman said, his humbleness filling the ballroom. He then said the most impressive thing of the week, saying he didn’t know Leach personally but he went to his funeral because “that’s what he would have done.”

That defines Pittman. If he’s changed since he came to Arkansas as the head coach, it doesn’t show much if at all.


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