Alabama Football: Crimson Tide opposing coach makes a statement

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

It is possible to be an Alabama football fan and still root for others in the SEC. Many Crimson Tide fans are hoping Billy Napier does well in Gainesville. Except for when they play the Crimson Tide, it is hard to not wish Vanderbilt some football success.

I suspect some of us Alabama football fans would be happy if Arkansas went 11-1 in the coming season. Other than a loss to the Crimson Tide, that would give the Razorbacks wins over Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU. Many Tide fans enjoy every loss for those three teams.

Support for Arkansas has an additional basis. It is the Hogs’ head coach, Sam Pittman. Pittman waited a long time to become a head coach. His coaching career began in the 1984 season, at the same place he played football, Pittsburgh State, in Kansas. Over the decades Pittman coached at many places, including Oklahoma, North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia. He was also an Arkansas assistant for three seasons until Georgia hired him away for the 2016 season.

Pittman’s two-season record at Arkansas is a modest 12-11. But in 2021 he blew past the most optimistic expectations and led the Razorbacks to a 9-4 record, including an Outback Bowl win over Penn State.

His abundant enthusiasm for being the Arkansas headman is infectious. By all accounts, his team loves playing for him.

The new contract bumped his salary from $3M to $5M plus incentives, putting it in line with most others in the SEC. The new contract runs through the 2026 season but has an automatic extension through the 2027 season if (when) the Razorbacks have another season winning seven or more games.

Sam Pittman was outspoken in his appreciation for the new contract.

"This is it for me. I’m not interested in any other program. Arkansas is truly the greatest program in America to me. We’re home, and this is where we want to be. This will be my last job."

Pittman is 60, so coaching past 2027 is certainly a possibility. But his contentment with Arkansas is more than words of appreciation. Sam Pittman went beyond words, to action.

His new contract has a non-compete clause, binding him to Arkansas even if another school chases him with much bigger money.

One motivation for the non-compete was Pittman’s belief it could help with recruiting.

"I thought this could help us in recruiting because you know we’re one of eight programs of 130 that have the head coach and the coordinators coming back for year three."

Head Coach Turnover no problem for Alabama Football

Pittman is probably correct, and the coaching turnover stat he quoted is stunning. Pittman added that coaches have had a ‘Transfer Portal’ for a long time. He wanted to buck the job-jumping trend and make a statement to his players and recruits. In the process, he made a statement to the rest of college football.

The guy, after the guy, after Nick Saban. dark. Next

Make no mistake, when the Crimson Tide takes on Arkansas in Fayetteville on Oct. 1, Alabama football fans can respect Sam Pittman and still root for a beatdown of the Hogs.