Sam Pittman talks future, appreciation for fans, Hunter Yurachek

By Otis Kirk
on 2023-11-20 15:25 PM

FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman held his weekly meeting with the media on Monday and talked about Hunter Yurachek addressing the team informing them he was returning as well as much more.

Yurachek announced on X Sunday that Pittman would be the head coach in 2024. Pittman was asked if he knew that Yurachek, the athletic director, was going to address the team about the decision?

“Did not, no,” Pittman said. “I mean, there’s a lot of emotion in the room, but I didn’t know it. But he wanted to address the team right before we finished with the conversation, and it was really cool because of the kids, you know. They went off. I don’t ever want to get in that situation, but it was a special moment to be a part of. It was really cool.”

Pittman talked about the stability that Yurachek provided the program with the decision. While the press conference was in progress, Pittman’s phone rang and while he didn’t answer it, the Hogs picked up a commitment from former Michigan State offensive tackle Keyshawn Blackstock, 6-5, 315. Blackstock was a priority recruit for Pittman, Cody Kennedy and the Hogs. Pittman said it will help the program tremendously that Yurachek announced the decision.

“Well, I think it’s really big because you know we’re getting a lot of negative from coaches in recruiting,” Pittman said. “I’ll say this, I think when you sign up for the SEC, you have to win. I mean, it’s here, (Texas) A&M, Mississippi State, wherever, Alabama. Wherever. You’ve got to win. And if you don’t, there’s opportunities for you to be unemployed.

“That’s just how it is, and that’s what we sign up for. So, I look at this as an opportunity for us to change our team, keep the ones that are good players for us and good kids and change our team, give us a chance to do that. And I think financially we’re going to have the money from NIL to do that. When all that happens, I think we can field a really, really good football team. And I’m excited about, obviously Saturday, but I’m really excited about the future.”

Last week Pittman implied that Arkansas didn’t have the NIL resources some others did, but then on Monday he seemed to say they do. Did something change in a week?

“No,” Pittman said. “Well, yes, but I don’t want to talk about it right now. I don’t remember what the question was, but I think the answer was no. I just feel good about it, and I’ll leave it at that for right now.”

Pittman was asked what he has learned about rebuilding and also the fans that have said they aren’t supporting the program any longer.

“Well, how they handle that, we want to earn their trust to come back,” Pittman said. “I think that’s anybody. You have to show what you can do, and once we do that, I think we’ll get them back. But I understand. The other part about it is, it’s a different world than the first years I was here because you did it through the portal and senior transfers and all that stuff. Now, you’re doing it through recruiting and NIL. It’s just things have changed. I actually think it’s easier to change a program now than when we first came in.

“Feleipe Franks was here Saturday, and to me, he was that key guy that we needed that first year, both publicly – ‘Hey, Feleipe Franks wants to come’ – and then obviously on the field. I think recruiting, I think we can recruit against anybody. It’s just that you can’t recruit against anybody financially, and I really feel good about where we’re sitting now and that if that’s the case, we can go out and recruit very well against anybody in the country.”

While Pittman didn’t know Yurachek’s addressing the team was coming he admitted it wasn’t that came as a surprise either.

“I wasn’t,” Pittman said. “I mean, we’ve never had a conversation that I was ever going to get fired or anything of that nature. The pressure that I had was one, on myself and more about the people employed in the building. More about the state, the fans.

“Nobody wants to disappoint anybody that has character about him. So it was never — and I mean this — it was never one time about me. Never. It was always about the recruits, the kids I’m coaching, the building and the state of Arkansas. I’ve lived a dream life, and I want to continue to do it. But it never was — never — about me, I, nothing like that. So the relief part of it was more for the kids, for the building, for recruiting, all those type things. And I was really happy that he did it because I think it needed to go out publicly so we can move forward and have an opportunity to continue to progress and change the football team in recruiting as well.”

Arkansas and Missouri will kickoff at 3 p.m. Friday afternoon in Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on CBS.

(Last updated: 2023-11-20 15:25 PM)