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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Razorbacks not drawing much attention

by Wally Hall | July 25, 2021 at 2:34 a.m.

HOOVER, Ala. -- By the time the Arkansas Razorbacks appeared for their two-plus hours of fame at SEC Football Media Days, 12 other teams had been endured.

Georgia's Kirby Smart almost filibustered with an opening statement that took 20 of his 30 minutes with the print media.

The deadpan humor of Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin was the highlight of the week.

Twenty-four players had been interviewed before the Hogs.

And Texas and Oklahoma of the Big 12 had stolen the show as stories broke about their interest in joining the SEC.

By the time Sam Pittman got to the podium, most media members were tired. The Hyatt Regency cranks the air down to about 60 degrees, so everyone was cold. And outside of the handful of Arkansas media, there wasn't a ton of interest.

That's what happens when you are 11-35 the past four seasons, and your resume includes losses to directional schools from Kentucky and Texas.

One member of the media stopped by to ask whether the Razorbacks were going to be better. The other 400 or so ignored me.

There was not a total lack of respect. The Hogs were voted to finish sixth in the SEC West ahead of Mississippi State, and Treylon Burks was named first team All-SEC. Linebacker Grant Morgan, defensive back Jalen Catalon and center Ricky Stromberg made second team, and Myron Cunningham was named to the third-team offensive line.

That's five Hogs out of 80 players who were honored.

Those who cover the Hogs were glad the team we were there to report on was in the building, and not just because it meant the last day had arrived.

Pittman said he had watched five of the news conferences on the SEC Network so he would be familiar with how things work after his first appearance was canceled by covid.

Pittman was tanned and looking healthy. He genuinely seemed happy to be there and talk about his team and staff.

Pittman is an optimist, which is exactly what the Razorback fans need.

He didn't pump a lot of sunshine or make big promises.

He simply said he believes they have enough players to have a good football team "as long as we buy in and we work hard and we execute."

Another way to say that is there will be little margin for error. Turnovers could ruin the season in a hurry.

He's also preaching the power of positive thinking.

"I mean, you can't beat anybody if you don't start out thinking you're go to or believing your going to," he said. "I think that has changed over the last year."

He took over a team with little discipline and less confidence. Morale had gone somewhere in a handbag in the two years Chad Morris was the head coach.

The Razorbacks shocked everyone but themselves last season by winning three games in a 10-game SEC-only schedule.

Their schedule was brutal, and there's no reason to believe the SEC is going to give them a break if the Longhorns and Sooners join the league.

From listening to Pittman on Thursday as well as Morgan and Cunningham, the offseason had a specific emphasis -- get bigger, stronger and faster.

Pittman knows there was some success. He also knows his team is under the radar.

No one has the Arkansas game circled. For most of the past four years, the Razorbacks have been more of a homecoming team than a threat.

If they had been better, Pittman wouldn't have been standing there last week being positive about where the team is and where it needs to get.

Pittman knows what it takes to win in the SEC, and he's putting the pieces together as fast as he can. And he handled his first SEC Media Days very well.

Print Headline: Razorbacks not drawing much attention

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