Few 1-4 teams in the history of SEC football have been able to dominate the headlines like this year’s Ole Miss squad.
That’s in large part due to their purposefully provocative coach Lane Kiffin, who turned an egregious call against his team in the Week 5 loss to Auburn into a rallying cry for justice from the SEC office wrapped around a savvy recruiting/marketing play.
First, Kiffin retweeted an Ole Miss fan’s complaint about the horrible call, which placed the blame solely on the officials, then he publicly complained that the SEC office was fining him $25,000 for pointing out what the SEC admitted: that it was wrong.
After that, Kiffin turned how he would pay the $25,000 into a multi-day spectacle onto itself, at first claiming he would pay it off in “25,000 pennies.”
But that miscalculation, it turns out, was a burn against the SEC office and its inability to review important matters.
Meanwhile, Arkansas coach Sam Pittman has every bit as big of a beef against the SEC office as Kiffin. In Week 3, he team was done equally wrong on a horrible call at the end of the Auburn game. In that situation, too, the officials essentially gifted Auburn a win.
Yet whereas Kiffin made the miscall and the SEC office’s sins a major theme in the following week, Pittman chose not to blow it up beyond answering a few reporter’s questions on the matter.
He sees the matter differently than Kiffin, he told sports radio host Josh Bertacinni this week. In a phone interview Bertacinni talked about the being wrong by replay referees: “A lot of other people would have gone out there and cursed up a blue streak and talked about it nonstop. I can think of a coach at another state nearby. He’s obviously doing stuff like that,” Bertacinni said.
But how were the Hogs so good at pivoting to the next game (a Week 4 win against Ole Miss) and hitting the reset button?
“I don’t think it does any good to talk about things that you can’t change,” Pittman responded “After the game’s over, whatever the decision was made during the game —, obviously there was a mistake made but — we can’t change it.”
“We talked about things we can change. And one of them was where he could make the first down and run the clock out or when we popped the ball, we can stop them. Those are the things that we we can control. If you can’t control something, there’s really no reason to talk about it, cause the results not going to change. So we didn’t want to waste time. “
The way Kiffin and Pittman reacted to similar situations underscores their different styles of coaches. Pittman’s meat and potatoes, while Kiffin’s all Hotty Toddy and crab meat.
Pittman likes to vacation in Hot Springs, where he likes to keep it simple and take his boat out on Lake Hamilton. Sure, Pittman may occasionally take his Sunday golf bag out for a few holes here and there, but that’s not his style. You’re much more likely to find him at Oaklawn watching the races.
Kiffin, meanwhile, would rather spend his time in the Gulf of Mexico, deep sea fishing and social media trolling.
To each their own. Neither coach is wrong here since the SEC office actually is biased and this issue does need to be called out. Plus, while Pittmans stays away from the trolling himself, his social media staff is more than up to the task.
Exhibit A is what it sent out after the Ole Miss win:
Oh dear pic.twitter.com/KISwt1qzCv— Arkansas Razorbacks ? (@ArkRazorbacks) October 17, 2020
Some of this stems from the two men’s backgrounds.
Kiffin was a hotshot offensive coordinator for Pete Carroll’s showtime USC Trojans in the mid 2000s before he became the youngest NFL head coach ever, whereas Pittman grinded away for decades as an offensive line coach in college football.
That’s a big reason for Pittman’s self-description as “very competitive, very humble, very driven, very confident.” He told Bertacinni that in “coaching basically half the offense in five [offensive line] guys, it’s very very hard to get cocky, it’s very hard to get full of yourself because the next play, you know, you can it two yard loss or a sack or something.”
See Pittman’s ease and confidence with not only the offensive line, but his whole Razorback football team, in this video:
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