Ask Mike: Another DWRRS Meltdown, Gus Boosters & Is Sam Coming Back?

By Mike Irwin
on 2023-11-13 20:57 PM

Q. Our first question comes from Hog in Iowa who says: I like Sam. I just think it’s obvious after this season that the players don’t really respect him or fear him. This offensive line is truly offensive to watch and I can’t for the life of me understand how it got this bad.

A. I see two issues that stand out. A big recruiting problem with offensive linemen which makes no sense with Pittman as the head coach. He clearly did not see this coming or he would have moved heaven and earth to correct the problem through the portal.

The other is a lack of leadership among the players. Strong leaders don’t allow what we saw in the Mississippi State and Auburn games. Some of the players just laying down on the job. Going though the motions.

Q.VBMark wants to know: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being absolutely certain to be gone and 1 being there’s not enough anti-freeze to keep Hades from freezing over before he is let go, how safe is Coach Pittman’s job this year?

A. It looks like he’s staying. I think it will be a hard sell but it’s the AD’s call. There are a bunch of problems that Pittman didn’t seem to have an answer for this season. But it sounds like got a plan that he’s to sold Hunter Yurachek for turning the program around in the off season.

Q. Radhog says: The second worst part of Sam’s weekend was Jimbo’s firing. What big money Razorback supporter would balk at, what, 15 mil when the lowly collies are paying 76 mil? Do you think this will make the deep pocket supporters pony up?

A. So what you’re asking is, if some Arkansas boosters will be so embarrassed by the ridiculous buyout money that the Aggies just paid that they will pony up 15 million for Pittman so they won’t look like cheapsakes? That’s an interesting concept. I don’t know these people well enough to answer that question. But let me say this: When boosters step forward and offer to get rid of a coach, that offer almost always comes with strings attached. Like hire the guy I want.
I think that’s a no for Hunter Yurachek.

Q. BloodRedHog wants to know: Is Gus even in the conversation again or have too many bridges been burned?

A. I have been told that there are big name boosters who want to bring him back but it’s not going to happen for two reasons. Number one I don’t think Malzahn would take the job. His wife told a friend of mine that they have no interest in putting the family they have in Arkansas through the scrutiny and controversy that comes with being the head coach here.

Number two, I don’t think Yurachek would agree to it just because those boosters might be willing to foot the cost of a buyout.

Q. Sherlock.Hawg says: How about returning Petrino as OC, getting a new O-Line coach, and keeping the remaining staff in place? Is there an appetite for that?

A. This might be acceptable to a part of the fanbase but would Yurachek sign off on it? I’m not sure he would be allowed to bring in Petrino since he was fired at the school. I will say this, there’s no question that Petrino knows what he’s doing. He made a big difference in A&M offense this season. I have also heard that his attitude and personality is completely different these days. Honestly it’s not a bad plan but only if Petrino were allowed back and I tend to think he would not be.

Q. Space Hog asks: Why on Earth do Hog fans keep saying we need to bring back Petrino? Or Houston Nutt? If we’re going to get ridiculous, why not bring back Broyles? Or Hugo Bezdek?

A. Most fans are looking at what they’re familiar with. Kind of a proven commodity thing. They don’t do a lot of research into what’s out there. Like, ‘I know this guy. Yeah he’d be great.’

Q. porlporkpork wants to know: Would you say the fan base is going to be checked out no matter who the coach is next season? It doesn’t feel like there’s a realistic hire HY could make that anyone would have confidence they are the right person for the job, whether it’s Sam or someone else.

A. There are always some who are going to get mad unless the coach is the exact guy they want. If Pittman stays, yes, there will be heat on Hunter Yurachek but that’s why an AD gets a million a year. It up to him to do what he can to help Pittman get the football team turned around.

Q. The_Bionic_Pig says: Mr. Yurachek has most likely already fielded football head coaching interest via 3rd party contact. My question to you is wasn’t Coach Musselman interview & eventual hiring kept completely under wraps? And do you foresee this strategy repeated?

A. No. I first heard about Musselman the day after Kelvin Sampson turned the job down and all during that process I was being told that even though some of the boosters wanted Gregg Marshall at Wichita State or Chris Beard at Texas Tech, Muss was getting the job and he did.
Every search is different but mostly word gets out before any announcement. But again I don’t know of any search going on right now.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy says: It seemed Auburn had the same, or even better success in stopping our run game as Liberty did last year. Did Freeze recreate the same game plan he beat us with last year? Should we have expected him to?

A. I think what happened is that Auburn’s DC looked at what Arkansas did against Florida and game planned against it. But mostly I think Arkansas’ players came out with no juice and got bullied.

Q. sgiles asks: What’s you take on the watching cartoons in the locker-room at halftime video? I think it’s disgraceful.

A. My first reaction was, who cares what went on in the walk on locker-room? There are no coaches in there and those guys are not going to get onto the field. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that even among walk on’s there should be some leadership. Somebody should have stepped up and turned that TV off. There’s a culture inside that team that is not good. Pittman said the walk on who was involved has apologized.

Q. WVHogfan asks: What would be Pittman’s buyout if he decided to retire and enjoy his life on Lake Hamilton?

A. I’m not a lawyer and I have no desire to start reading his contract. I’ve heard anywhere from 16 to 20 million. Sixteen million is the number I’ve heard the most. I could be wrong about this but I don’t think Pittman will be fired. If he goes it will come as an announced retirement with MAYBE a reduced buyout.

Q. Hogdogger says: I suspect the players see weakness in Sam Pittman over the way Dan Enos situation happened. Sam not being assertive in stepping up to address the insubordination issues with Enos earlier in the season happened right before their own eyes.

A. A good point. Some of the players have to be looking at that situation and asking themselves why didn’t he do something earlier?

Q. PatBoat asks: Do you think Sam shows enough fire on the sideline? I get he’s not Nick Saban but hold guys accountable for poor plays and effort.

A. It’s not the lack of passion that bothers me. It’s the total confusion on his face over and over again.

Q. mousetown wants to know: How could Pittman not see what was coming in the Auburn game? His players went right back to where they were going into the Mississippi State game. Yet, he said there were no warning signs? Seriously?

A. That’s a sign of a lack of leadership. Good team leaders know what’s going on within the team better than the coaches do. They can alert the coaches if they sense issues. Clearly this didn’t happen.

Q. dagnamit says: I feel that giving some players NIL money while others do not get it is killing college football. It seems to me that a mid tier team with minimum Nil money in the fan base would be better off if it made sure every starter got around the same NIL money.

A. You are on target and I’ve been told it’s a problem with this Arkansas team. The only answer IMO is to make scholarship athletes part time employees of the university they attend and distribute NIL money equally among them all.

Q.RazorAlex88 says: Our bowl hopes went the way of Old Yeller. But it so happens that I will be in San Diego during the Holiday Bowl and my friend and I are very tempted to get tickets to that. Should be interesting experience to go to a PAC 12 and ACC matchup still representing our Piggies.

A. I hope you have fun. Most Hog fans are probably done with football and will worry about it next season.

(Last updated: 2023-11-13 20:57 PM)