OPINION | WALLY HALL: Pittman can’t afford to strike out on OC hire


Sam Pittman may be one of the most popular men in Arkansas.

He's friendly, down home nice and sincerely loves being the head coach at the University of Arkansas.

He probably isn't the most popular football coach in Razorback history, at least not following a 4-8 overall and 1-7 SEC season. Getting blown out at home in the last two conference games hurt deeply.

It is not Chad Morris or John L. Smith bad, but Pittman probably understands Razorback fans are sick of losing and the Hogs haven't had an overall winning coach since Bobby Petrino went for an ill-fated motorcycle ride.

Lots of fans are on social media pointing out Pittman appears to have been a better coach when his agent was with the much-liked Judy Henry of Wright Lindsey Jennings law firm.

Henry led the charge, rallying former players, for Pittman.

Of course, there is great anticipation about who Pittman will hire as the next offensive coordinator, and fans can expect Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek to be more involved in that decision than super agent Jimmy Sexton.

In fact, it would be surprising if Yurachek wasn't evaluating Pittman's entire staff that has an average age of about 37. That would have been higher had Dan Enos not been terminated eight games into the season.

Enos was the only Arkansas assistant with head coaching experience and that was four years at Central Michigan.

Youth can be a good thing when it comes to energy and relating to recruits and parents.

Pittman turns 62 today, sharing a birthday with my sister Lola who wishes she was 62 (as does her older brother), but doubt he'll be doing much celebrating for a while.

When he said he was the right guy to fix the program he was admitting it was broken in some places.

That's a great start, but it is the opinion here he needs help.

Having never been a head coach before he doesn't have a coaching tree to rely on and some of the coaches he respects, like Kirby Smart, are a little busy with other things.

In fact, at Pittman's first news conference he said he was going to hire someone with head coaching experience and he did in Barry Odom.

Odom left this year to be the head coach at UNLV where he went 9-3 and tied for first in the Mountain West. The Running Rebels play Boise State for the Mountain West Championship at 2 p.m. this Saturday in Las Vegas.

Obviously, Pittman hit a home run with Odom and that's what he needs in his next hire, who it appears won't have the luxury of working with quarterback KJ Jefferson, who texted before the loss to Missouri, "Last one."

Insiders say Jefferson wants to test the NFL, and if they give him a thumbs up then he should go for it at full speed. If, though, he intends to transfer he should with the same gusto. If you don't want to be a Razorback then go.

Jefferson had already graduated and went through senior day celebrations last Saturday.

So most likely whoever Pittman hires as his OC will have a clean slate.

Pittman has said he hopes to make an announcement this week, which would be good because the transfer portal opens on Dec. 4 and the head coach and his entire staff need to be camping there in hopes of upgrading personnel.

This season was hard for the Razorback Nation who expect to be competitive again. The Razorbacks were until those final two conference games when Hugh Freeze, who was at one time interested in the Arkansas job, and Eliah Drinkwitz, who was never interest in coaching the Hogs, determined the final score.

It was hard on nice-guy Pittman too.