FAYETTEVILLE -- Sam Pittman met with the media on Monday and touched on a variety of topics from his job security to Polar Express to Jacolby Criswell.
Arkansas (3-7) on the season has remaining games, both in Razorback Stadium, with FIU on Saturday night then Missouri on Friday, Nov. 24. Following the 48-10 loss and underwhelming season Pittman was asked if he's coaching for his job in these next two games?
"Uh, well, you’re always trying to win," Pittman said. "So honestly, it doesn’t feel a whole lot different than what it does every week. We want to win and coach for our players to be the best they possibly can be. In coaching I think a lot of times you get concerned when you felt like you had a really good practice week and it doesn’t go well on a Saturday. So we went back and tried to figure out if we can change something up. Obviously it was the same thing we did against Florida, format wise. But no, we’re trying to win games and trying to do the best we can to put the kids in the best spot to have success."
Normally playing the final two games at home would be good news. However, Arkansas is 1-3 in Razorback Stadium having lost the past three games. This despite the fans turning out well to support the team.
"First of all, we’re thankful for them coming out and supporting us," Pittman said. "Obviously we’re disappointed we didn’t have even a good showing for them on Saturday. But we believe we can get this thing turned around, and that’s what we’re going to do."
Two head coaches from the SEC West have been fired in the past 24 hours. Mississippi State fired Zach Arnett on Monday while Texas A&M did the same to Jimbo Fisher on Sunday. Both teams beat Arkansas this season. Does their firing make the noise in Fayetteville louder?
"That’s a good question," Pittman said. "I think it’s hard, obviously, to block out all noise. You know what I mean? We’ve got a job to do. That is to get prepared each and every week. Jamie and I, when we got here, we were planning on coaching here until whatever that date was that we were going to go down to Hot Springs and call it a day.
"I’m not close to that year right now, and the plan is to get this program back to where it deserves to be and stay here as long as we possibly can. … But it’s hard to block out noise. It’s more like for the kids, for the recruits. Once it starts, a lot of negative stuff, it’s about recruiting. I know what’s going on and Hunter Yurachek knows what’s going on, but really nobody else really [knows]. It’s opinion. They don’t really know what’s going on. But it affects our recruits, so we spent a lot of time yesterday with that as well.
"My job is to get ready for FIU. I’m not worried about my job security — at all. And I think I’m the guy for the University and I want to stay here for a long time."
As if losing to Auburn 48-10 wasn't enough, a video surfaced from the walk-on locker room at halftime of the players in there watching Polar Express.
"I haven’t seen Polar Express, so I don’t really know my thoughts on the movie," Pittman said. "In our locker room, I want to reward our kids by letting them run through the ‘A’ if they’ve practiced well. We don’t have enough lockers in our main locker (room) to house all the kids, so some of them have to go in a separate locker. It’s separate and a separate door to the locker. A young man, I’ve already addressed it with him, he made a mistake. That’s why we don’t, you don’t want cameras in the locker room — for several reasons. You know, because of your showering, this, that and the other. But it’s hard because music’s on it, as well, you know what I’m saying? So that’s a team rule.
"You can’t have your… But it’s also a team rule you don’t post anything after Friday night, after we leave on Friday. So a young man made a mistake. Sent it to a friend, friend sent it to his brother, brother put it out on what have you. I’ve already addressed it and I think we’re fine there, but it was just a mistake that a young man made and I wish he wouldn’t have, but he came in, he was sorry for it, he was very remorseful for it, so we’re going to move on."
Former Morrilton standout Jacolby Criswell got to see action on Saturday. Criswell topped the Hogs in rushing with six carries for 64 yards including a 60-yard sprint. He was 2-of-4 passing for 19 yards and one touchdown. Will he play against FIU?
"You know, I hate this — hate’s not a good word," Pittman said. "To come in here on a Monday and answer a question and be truthful to you is hard because we haven’t had any conversations with anybody on the team. You know what I mean? If we were going to do something, and we’re not by the way.
"Jacolby I think has earned the right to play some. But to answer your question truthfully when I haven’t had the opportunity to tell the kid before the media. That’s why Mondays are sometimes — if we ever start practicing in the morning, I think these will be a lot better interviews you know what I mean. Like I said before, I really think he gave us a spark and man he looked fast. He’s played two games and thrown touchdowns in both games. I’m really excited about him and our future. But, I think he’s earned the right to get on the field."
Arkansas and FIU will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night in Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Photos Courtesy of Craven Whitlow CW3 Sports Action