Adversity isn't new to Sam Pittman and Arkansas
No matter who you are or where you come from, adversity is bound to strike. The Arkansas football program is no stranger to it, and its most recent 38-31 loss to BYU on Saturday has left the team with more questions than answers.
Head coach Sam Pittman has been in the game for a long time, but as just a fourth-year head coach, even he still struggles with adversity.
"You know, I’ll be honest with you, it’s hard to block out your 15-second decisions," Pittman said Monday. "There’s a lot of stuff that goes through your mind. What if it doesn’t work? Where does this put us at? Where is this? Because you know if it doesn’t work that you’re going to get a lot of questions about it.
"If it does work, you’re probably not going to get any. So I think that’s what I kind of went with with analytics a little bit and I’m going, ‘Okay, I’m going to do what the book says, unless this, that or the other.’
One particular play that stands out was a failed 4th-and-1 attempt from the 50 yard-line with the Razorbacks leading 31-21 in the third quarter. Instead of letting their big-bodied quarterback line up under center, the Hogs handed it off to running back Rashod Dubinion out of the shotgun formation.
"I think that’s the one thing I’ve learned, is if you make a decision, it better work," Pittman said. "Maybe the preparation of that particular moment…we’ve been pretty good on the goal line. We just haven’t been good on fourth-and-1. We’ve lost two of them. We’ve got to get better in case I feel the need to go for it that we’ve got to get it. I’ve learned just do what you think you’re prepared [to do] and get off the analytics just a little bit."
Though social media can be used to help elevate your program and recruiting, it can also be used by naysayers to spew hateful comments — something Pittman is no stranger to.
"Because of the addition of social media has — and the addition of, not opinions so much but negative," Pittman said. "You know, used to it was ‘You gotta do better.’ or something, not ‘You suck. You’re fat. You’re this.’ You know what I mean? Now it’s, the comments have nothing to do with what happened in the game, it’s ‘You suck.’"
While Pittman and the coaching staff have been on the receiving end of some not-so-kind words through social media, it's the players who get the worst of it.
"It’s not just me, it’s the kids," Pittman said. "I think it’s a time when it’s harder to recover from losses if you’re a social media person. So, you know your best friends will say ‘Man, you guys are going to get them this week. And oh, stay off social media.’ you know what I mean? So you’re going, ‘I have been.’ So then you’re going, ‘What’s happening?’
"The kids are the same way, so I think it’s hard. It is. Because you want to please the people that are employing you, the team, your wife, the state, the media and you can’t always do that. That’s the hard part about our job and I would imagine the hard part about being a student athlete."
Players and coaches alike want to win games. Sure, fans are incredibly disappointed whenever their favorite team loses, but the ones who put the time and effort on and off the field are far more hurt whenever they don't perform up to their standards.
"Because we all have feelings, we all have — you know what I mean. And when you let people down, you’re already beating yourself up on it, and then somebody starts beating the hell out of you with it," Pittman said. "I think it’s a little bit harder to recover. But they’re going to recover it as I do. And when I get to that meeting today, it’s going to be all about LSU after we get the corrections that we need to do."
The Razorbacks will travel to Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday to take on the No. 12 LSU Tigers. The game is set to kickoff at 6:00 p.m. CT and it will air on ESPN.