A Saturday guy: Loggains rediscovers college ‘passion’

Dowell Loggains (front), who played at Arkansas in 2000-04, spent 16 years as an assistant coach with six NFL teams before returning to Fayetteville this season to be the Razorbacks’ tight ends coach. “Coaching is coaching,” Loggains said. “If you can help guys get better, they’re going to listen to you.” (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Dowell Loggains worked in the NFL for 16 years with six teams, but it shouldn't be a surprise he's on a college staff now.

"Saturdays are different than Sundays," Loggains said in 2013 when he was the Tennessee Titans' offensive coordinator. "Both are big business, but I love the passion that's in Razorback Stadium when you pull up in the team bus.

"That's the thing you miss in the NFL. There aren't any marching bands, there aren't any fight songs."

Loggains will be on one of the University of Arkansas' team buses when they pull up to Reynolds Razorback Stadium for Saturday's season opener against Rice. He also will be able to hear the Razorback Marching Band play the fight song.

Loggains returned to Arkansas as the tight ends coach in June. He spent five seasons with the Razorbacks from 2000-04, the last four as the starting holder who also worked at quarterback and graduated from the UA with degrees in kinesiology and education.

"Like all former Razorback players and everyone who is a Razorback fan, we all live and die with this football team," Loggains said during preseason camp. "I was gone [16] years, but I can promise you I've paid attention to every game, every score and watched every time I could."

After Adam Gase was fired by the New York Jets in early January along with his staff -- Loggains was the team's offensive coordinator -- Loggains went to work as an analyst at Penn State for four months before being offered a job by Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman.

Houston Nutt, the Razorbacks' coach from 1998-2007, said the connection for Loggains at Penn State was Nittany Lions Coach James Franklin.

Loggains and Franklin got to know each other in Nashville, Tenn., when Loggains coached with the Titans and Franklin was Vanderbilt's coach.

"Dowell gets along well with James Franklin, but when Arkansas called him, that was a quick no-brainer for Dowell, to get to go coach at the place where you ran through the 'A,' " Nutt said. "I know he's very thankful to Coach Pittman. To me, it's a great fit for Dowell and for Arkansas."

As an analyst, Loggains couldn't coach players on the field, so his first experience as a college coach has been with the Razorbacks. Instead of coaching NFL players, he's coaching players who hope to get to the NFL.

"The transition?" Loggains said. "I mean, coaching is coaching. If you can help guys get better, they're going to listen to you. They all have the goal to play at the next level.

"It definitely helps that you can tell guys, 'Hey, this is what it looks like at the next level.' I think the buy-in is extremely high."

Pittman, going into his second season at Arkansas, said coaching college players hasn't been a tough adjustment for Loggains.

"He's got such a great personality," Pittman said. "He's had such a great love for Arkansas. I mean, he just beams it. And he knows how to coach.

"I've never coached in the pros. It might be a whole lot different, but I would assume it's about how you treat them, what your knowledge is, how you talk to them, do you know what you're talking about. If you do those things, I think you can coach about any level."

Senior tight end Blake Kern said Loggains' background as an offensive coordinator has brought a different perspective to the tight ends room.

"Coach Loggains, he brings an asset to the room of seeing the whole picture on any given play throughout practice," Kern said. "He teaches us the grand scheme of the picture instead of just seeing it through a straw.

"He calls out every single thing and makes us think about things that we wouldn't traditionally as tight ends."

Loggains grew up in Abilene, Texas, but he was born in Newport and raised as a Razorbacks fan.

Coming to Arkansas rather than going to a smaller school where he could play quarterback in games, Loggains has said, was part of his plan to become a coach.

"When Dowell was a player you could see he was going to be a coach," Nutt said. "He was a gym rat and was always the first guy in the meetings. He was really smart and studied the game, signaled in plays for us.

"He took advantage of his time at Arkansas and soaked up everything he could."

Arkansas offensive coordinator Kendal Briles said it helped Loggains to be at Penn State, even if for just a few months.

"Dowell is very knowledgeable," Briles said. "He knows a lot of things about football. It hasn't taken him long to learn our offense.

"Obviously, a guy like Dowell, who has been involved with football his entire life, he's picked it up quickly."

Briles said he's eager to learn from Loggains as well as other coaches.

"Everybody comes from different backgrounds," Briles said. "It doesn't matter if you're an eighth-grade football coach, you're going to have ideas.

"If I'm the coordinator and I'm not open to new ideas, then I'm stuck in my rut. So we're always adapting and ready for change. Dowell obviously brings a wealth of knowledge that can help us."

Kern said Loggains brought a professional mindset to the players.

"He leads us in the right way and treats us like true professionals that he's been around forever," Kern said. "He brings up players he's coached in the past and tells us how they operated, and how technique was their biggest thing.

"It didn't matter if it was a walk-through practice or mental reps or anything like that. So I think him just educating us on the right way to do things has been huge since he's been here for sure."

Loggains said he was proud of what Pittman did in 2020. The Razorbacks went 3-7 against an all-SEC schedule after being 1-23 in conference games the previous three seasons.

"I think everyone wants the opportunity to coach at home," Loggains said. "I turned on the tape and watched how hard these guys played. I knew that Razorback spirit was back. It had been missing for a little while, and Coach Pittman has been able to recapture that.

"Now that we've recaptured it, we have to continue to build on it. We've had more success than we did in the past, but the standard of this program is very high, and it should be."

Two of Loggains' seasons as a player, the Razorbacks won nine games.

"I remember what this program was like back when I played," Loggains said. "We won the West every three or four years and we played in January 1 bowls, and we had a lot of NFL-caliber players who got drafted high.

"I think Coach Pittman is going to get us back to that level. It doesn't happen overnight. He's built a really good foundation, and we're going to continue to build it every day."