Sam Pittman explains why he deleted Twitter
Arkansas football head coach Sam Pittman spoke last Monday about adversity and the impact of social media on him and his players. Not long after, Pittman deleted his Twitter account on the popular social media website — prompting a blowback from some of those in the fanbase.
"I think you can figure out the rationale," Pittman said Monday. "You know, when you’re a public figure, I think everybody thinks it’s okay to bash public figures and people. That could be musicians. Coaches. Whatever it may be, I'll be honest with you, I just got sick of it."
A major benefit of social media is the ability for coaches to market their program to recruits around the country, some of whom may not know a lot about what Arkansas has to offer.
"My friend over here (Kyle Parkinson) has told me I need to bring it back," Pittman said. "The only reason I had it in the first place, he’s so mad at me right now, the only reason I had it in the first place is for recruiting. I’m told it would do well for the university if I bring it back."
Though recruiting is important, the negative side of social media can have an even bigger impact on the current players on the roster, something Pittman said he won't stand for.
"I do not believe that you can hide behind a phone and address people as personally as what people do," Pittman said. "I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s right for the kids.
"I mean, I’m a counselor last week for my punter. For some o-linemen. That to me is not what it is for a bunch of people that’s hiding to talk about you. If you want to ask me a question, everybody knows I’m fat. Everybody knows I’ve got a big chest. To do that, who does that make feel better? It’s not right.
"And people say well, you make a lot of money. That doesn’t have anything to do with people bashing me personally. You can talk about my coaching all you want and this, that and another. But going and attacking me, and guys on the team, it’s not right. I’ll never feel like it’s right.
"As a coach you can’t have a political affiliation. You can’t have a religious affiliation. You can’t do anything, but you can take it. I got tired of taking it and I closed my Twitter account. Looks like I’m going to fire it back up, but that’s how I feel about it. All that’s going to do is get some more people bashing me, so go right ahead, because I don’t have Twitter."
Mental health is one of the most important talking points in today's world. This is especially true for student-athletes, who take the brunt of hatred and vitriol from unhappy fans on social media.
Pittman said that he and the rest of the coaching staff encourage players to get counseling when they need it, but he himself has had to talk to players one-on-one at certain times.
"(Max) Fletcher was at practice at Monday," Pittman said. "He’s lower than low. I walk by him, I become that counselor at times. I walk by him, I say ‘Hey Max, what’s wrong with you?’ (Fletcher says) ‘Social media.' I ain’t going to tell you everything I said, but I said ‘Well, what are they saying Max?’ (Fletcher says) ‘Went to Australia to get a 10-yard punter.' You know, and all this kind of stuff. (Fletcher says) ‘Why’d you go all that way to get a guy that can’t kick?’
"I said, ‘Max, they didn’t say I’m fat on there did they?’ He said, ‘Yes sir.’ ‘What about my chest, did they say anything about that?’ He started smiling, he said ‘Yes sir.’ I said, ‘Was I supposed to get fired on Sunday?’ He said, ‘Yes sir.’ (laughter). I said, ‘Well, I’m still here. They got two out of three right.’
"To answer your question, there’s a lot of — we talk about a lot of things. And one of them happens to be mental health. We need to help these kids. There’s a lot more going on in their life right now than possibly when I was a kid. And I think a lot of it has to do with this. A lot of good about this, but there’s also — if you get pulled the wrong direction with it, it can spoil your day or whatever."
Pittman and the Hogs will take on the Texas A&M Aggies at 11 a.m. CT on the SEC Network on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.