Today's Paper News Sports Features Business Opinion LEARNS Guide Newsletters Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

OPINION | WALLY HALL: Time right for Pittman to see what he's worth

by Wally Hall | December 8, 2021 at 3:07 a.m.

It has, at the very best, been confusing.

Sam Pittman changing agents -- from popular Judy Henry to powerful Jimmy Sexton -- has left a lot of people feeling like, to borrow a quote from Federal Judge Bill Wilson, they have gravel in their shoe.

In the answers when questioned about making the switch, Pittman has seemed a little defensive and a lot like he wished no one had asked.

Pittman rode into Arkansas virtually as a test. No one knew if he could be a head coach and get the Arkansas Razorbacks turned around.

He was so down to earth and thankful for the opportunity he didn't look at his pay when he signed the contract and after he signed it he said to his wife, look how much they are going to pay us to coach football.

Because he was lacking head coaching experience, Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek was about to get him for $3 million a year with a chance to earn $750,000 in bonuses for winning six, seven and eight games.

That's more money than the average Arkansan will make in three lifetimes.

However, the average Arkansan didn't pull the Razorbacks out of a dumpster fire and two years later have them in a Jan. 1 bowl.

There is the fact that Henry led the charge, with the full support of numerous former players, to get an unproven offensive line coach the job.

She probably burned up a dozen cell phone batteries calling Yurachek and associate athletic director Jon Fagg.

If she hadn't finally convinced them to just interview Pittman, just meet him face to face, he might not be the head coach.

Calling her and telling her he was going in a different direction was not his best execution. She gave him the infamous jukebox.

However, if you are Pittman, who looks like he's dropped 50 pounds, you are probably looking at just one more contract, and this was his money year and the time to see what he is worth.

The college athletic business model is broken. Head coaching salaries have risen above those in the NFL.

Nick Saban is making around $10 million a year. Jimbo Fisher will be close to that when he gets his new contract at Texas A&M. LSU is paying Brian Kelly $9 million a year. Ole Miss just upped Lane Kiffin to $7.5 million per season.

Pittman is seeing those numbers for guys he has to play every year.

Currently. he is 12th in the SEC in pay.

The University of Arkansas shouldn't want to be that low. It just gave Eric Musselman a $2 million raise, so he now makes more than the football coach which is unheard of in the SEC -- unless you are Kentucky.

One thing Pittman was quick to say when this whole thing came up was he was not leaving. He still intended to finish his career at Arkansas and then retire here.

He's already build a beautiful mini-mansion on Lake Hamilton for the sunset years.

Anyone in his position would want to renegotiate his contract. It just makes sense.

Plus, he may be looking for a little job security. After this season, the Razorbacks will lose 29 seniors -- 12 of those super seniors -- and could probably lose a couple of juniors to the draft.

The next two seasons may look more like his first season, and that's not his fault.

He came in, took the hand he was dealt and made it into a competitor. A winner.

Arkansas can pay him more than what's he's making, and will, but just how much will be up to Yurachek and the UA Board of Trustees, President Don Bobbit and interim Chancellor Charles Robinson with Jimmy Sexton doing what he does best, working his tail off for the coach without a thought about the school.

Print Headline: Time right for Pittman to see what he's worth


Sponsor Content