LITTLE ROCK — Actually spelled out within the lyrics of an Aretha Franklin hit tune is the No. 1 precedence for Sam Pittman.
“R E S P E C T,” for the Razorback program is on the high of the want listing of many UA followers who know all too effectively that merely being aggressive is a child step, a prerequisite to such down-the-road targets as bowl eligibility and qualifying for an SEC championship each 10 years.
Nationally, respectability for Arkansas soccer is at an all-time low with so-called specialists and the media. Positive, the opposing coach usually praises one factor or one other concerning the Razorbacks, however such remarks are just about compulsory throughout sport week.
Within the quick time period, Pittman’s status will assist and his hiring will treatment followers contaminated with apathy ensuing from an 8-28 file the previous three years, however the identical could be stated for supporters of Florida State, Ole Miss and Missouri with the introductions of Mike Norvell, Lane Kiffin and Eliah Drinkwitz.
At one time or one other, all had been talked about prominently in athletics director Hunter Yurachek’s seek for a successor to Chad Morris.
The silver lining to the horrific file and an SEC dropping streak that started Nov. 11, 2017, means an especially low bar for Pittman, notably in his first yr. And respectability is obscure sufficient that people will apply their very own requirements.
For these in search of specifics, step one is thrashing all nonconference foes that don’t belong to a Energy 5 convention — with an exemption for impartial Notre Dame subsequent Sept. 12 — and keep away from a string of non-competitive losses such because the 2019 defeats by 148 factors vs. Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi State and LSU.
Respectability additionally means being aggressive coming into the fourth quarter towards all however the SEC’s perfect. When and if that occurs, an SEC victory turns into a chance.
Just about a footnote when introduced in early October, Nevada changing Kent State as Arkansas’ 2019 opener means 3-1 within the 2019 nonconference will not be a given. Named head coach previous to the 2017 season, Jay Norvell has the Mountain West Convention member in a bowl sport for the second straight yr and was certainly one of 4 candidates the Missouri athletics director initially talked about throughout his teaching search.
And, the prospect of a 2-2 file is just a prelude to the SEC schedule. Dwelling as much as a moniker invoked by former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, this “Debbie Downer” believes Pittman’s first Arkansas crew is more likely to be 0-6 within the league earlier than they get to their most weak convention opponents, Ole Miss and Missouri.
Solely Charleston Southern and an open date interrupt a stretch that begins with Mississippi State and Texas A&M, consists of Alabama and LSU, and concludes with Tennessee and Auburn.
The primary two are bowl sure and are anticipated to be higher in 2020 with their beginning quarterbacks returning. Alabama’s protection can be extra typical of the Crimson Tide after beginning 4 freshmen a lot of the latest season. Joe Burrow’s substitute gained’t be nearly as good because the possible Heisman Trophy winner, however LSU all the time has athletes. The Vols completed the season with 5 straight victories and Auburn quarterback Bo Nix improved dramatically throughout his freshman yr.
Lagging far behind in recruiting solely provides to the UA’s dilemma.
Based on ESPN, LSU already has 24 commitments, Alabama 23, Mississippi State 22, Auburn 21 and Texas A&M 20, and people are simply groups within the SEC West with the Razorbacks.
These commitments embody virtually 60 athletes in ESPN’s high 300 and that very same accounting reveals the Razorbacks with six commitments and just one within the high 300.
A lot of the choose athletes have been courted for 2 years or extra and Pittman has barely per week to persuade the uncommitted set on signing early that Arkansas is true for them.
Faculty-generated releases saying a hiring are all the time optimistic, however Yurachek was appropriate when he known as Pittman “one of many nation’s greatest recruiters” and the brand new man in cost is definite to rent an assistant or two with a status for promoting an athlete on a program.
However, what concerning the product Pittman and his UA assistants should tout? Definitely, they will’t take the identical strategy as Florida State’s new coach once they pitch Arkansas.
“There’s a custom of excellence right here,” Mike Norvell stated when launched Sunday. “There’s a commonplace. Success is coming.”
Belief is a giant a part of the coach-player relationship and prospects would see straight by such a promise from Arkansas coaches. Someway, UA coaches should persuade athletes that one thing optimistic goes to occur in Fayetteville and that being in on the bottom flooring is an efficient factor. Many will choose to go the place success is already a part of the setting.
On the plus aspect, none of this can come as a shock to the 58-year-old Pittman.