Nobody delivers a zinger quite like Sam Pittman.
The Arkansas football head man pretty much has what it means to be “folksy football coach” type on lock-down, as evidenced by his ongoing, hilarious push and pull around the question of whether he’s actually pitching beer or not on national television. Last season, after a win against Cincinnati, he got things rolling by telling viewers nationwide he was going to enjoy some “old cold beer” before adding, of course, that “I’m not promoting it.”
During SEC Media Days this summer, with the prompting of a reporter, he let people know “I like an old Hamm beer, but you burp a lot afterward. You seem like you got a good job, man. Step it up a little bit.”
That line of questioning was parlayed into this instant classic from Monday:
Again, a mention of old cold beer, sandwiched between talk of Popeye’s chicken, getting on a boat and grabbing some pizza.
Sam Pittman Delivers in Little Rock
So, it was no surprise that the crowd who arrived on Tuesday to hear Pittman talk as the opening weekly guest of the Little Rock Touchdown Club were hungry for more of that famous old wit.
The 61-year-old veteran coach did not disappoint, whether by having a good time with a story about how Jackie Sherrill never called him back after an interview for an offensive line coach position at Mississippi State, or another yarn involving breaking his No. 2 pencil while taking a standardized test a long time ago.
He then went into a rundown of some of his new assistant coaches, starting with offensive coordinator Dan Enos. He let people know that Enos was so eager to return to Fayetteville after leaving after the Bret Bielema era ended that he didn’t even ask what the salary would be.
Pittman, famously, didn’t ask his current boss Hunter Yurachek about the starting salary for the Arkansas football job when he was offered in late 2019 (although his agent at the time, Judy, did). “Dan was the same way,” Pittman told the packed Little Rock crowd. “He wanted to come back and be amongst y’all and be back in the great state of Arkansas.”
Pittman then praised the arrivals of his co-defensive coordinators Travis Williams and Marcus Woodson. He delivered his biggest laugh of the night when explaining why bringing aboard both accomplished defensive coaches this off-season was so critical to the success of the program.
While Woodson’s pass defense at Florida State finished in the top 10 in the nation last year, Pittman said, “We finished in the [sniff] in the country. We finished.” As laughter erupted, a smile crept across Pittman’s face. “We were there. They had a number for us. It was way… [hand going upward, then dropping downward]… somewhere.”
Arkansas Football’s Most Embarrassing Unit
Pittman, of course, was alluding to Arkansas’ last place pass defense finish nationally in 2022. As much as as has been made out of the four games that the Hogs lost by a total of nine points in 2022, and how much a healthy KJ Jefferson and/or better backup QBs would have made a difference, simply falling in the middle of the pack nationally in pass defense would have likely meant nine instead of seven wins for the team.
On the season, Arkansas allowed a school-record 294.7 passing yards per game.
Woodson knows a thing or two about taking over a struggling pass defense. When he was hired at Florida State, he inherited a unit that ranked 119th. By his fourth season, the Seminoles ranked fourth nationally in that category.
This year, there’s a lot of reason to believe Arkansas will be able to field a pass defense unit that can perform in the middle of the pack at the minimum.
Arkansas has landed a touted duo of Baylor defensive backs from the portal and landed cornerbacks Jaheim Singletary and Kee’yon Stewart from last year’s national championship game participants, Georgia and TCU, respectively.
Six incoming freshmen have also helped transform the secondary, but the transfer portal could have yielded four of its five starters — with the fifth being a former walk-on, Best of Arkansas Sports’ Andrew Hutchinson wrote.
On top of that, a more muscular Hudson Clark returns alongside standout cornerback Dwigh McGlothern, who was the second-highest graded player on the defense last year, according to Pro Football Focus. His 77.2 grade coming in just behind Drew Sanders (79.2).
Read more about Arkansas’ secondary here:
And hear Sam Pittman start talking about his new assistants at 6:25 below:
More laughs from Sam Pittman, as he playfully tackles the topic of Oaklawn gaming: