OPINION | WALLY HALL: Next year should be a bit easier for Pittman

Hunter Yurachek made it official on Sunday.

The Arkansas Athletic Director put out a statement that he had met with the coaches and players after Arkansas' 44-20 win over Florida International and assured everyone that Coach Sam Pittman would be coaching the Razorbacks in 2024.

Yurachek isn't known for putting out statements, but ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore had told viewers before the game that Yurachek had met with Pittman for two hours the previous Sunday and told him his job was safe for another year.

Pittman said he didn't remember telling Gilmore that, so Yurachek put out the statement to the state and local media to make it clear to the Razorback Nation.

Pittman was a bit defensive after the game -- but who isn't when the subject is personal job security -- and said the talk of him being on the hot seat was hurting recruiting.

More likely the three home losses and 1-6 in SEC play might give some recruits concern.

The biggest concern for Pittman and the Razorbacks is how much Name, Image and Likeness money can be raised because right now the pay to play is out of control. Don't know if this has happened at Arkansas, but there has been talk about recruits and their parents expecting to be paid to make official visits.

Still, Pittman has a reputation as being a great recruiter and the transfer portal is open for all.

He just needs to make sure the scales weigh in his favor of gains versus losses and the most asked question is will quarterback KJ Jefferson use his covid year and return or will he go pro, or possibly find a higher bidder at another college.

If he's made up his mind about next year Jefferson is keeping the final decision open, and it might be worth his time to get an evaluation from the NFL.

Also, in Pittman's favor, next year's schedule is a little kinder and gentler than it has been recently.

This season the Hogs stayed in hotels on four consecutive weekends.

Next year Arkansas opens with UAPB in Little Rock, plays Oklahoma State on the road, and hosts Alabama-Birmingham and Louisiana Tech.

The exact dates have not been announced, but they will have SEC home games against LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas. Games away from home will be at Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri at AT&T Stadium against Texas A&M.

Not saying that's an easy schedule, but anything that doesn't have Alabama on it is automatically softer. Having Vanderbilt instead of one of the eight Arkansas did get would have been asking too much.

Of course, there is still one game to go and a win over 9-2 Missouri would make for a slightly merrier Christmas.

At a glance it seemed odd that the early line on the game favored the ninth-ranked Tigers by only 7 1/2 points.

They have clinched second place in the SEC East and are averaging 34 points per game and allowing 24 in SEC play while the Razorbacks are averaging 21 points and allowing 30.

Granted, Arkansas didn't have a Vanderbilt on its schedule, but the numbers are still one-sided.

Oddsmakers are uncanny, but they aren't perfect. Just look at Auburn, which was favored by 23 and lost to New Mexico State by 21, so maybe they were using the equation of common opponents, which everyone says you can't compare scores but does anyway.

Arkansas and Missouri shared two common opponents. The Tigers lost at home to LSU 49-39 and beat Florida 33-31. The Razorbacks lost to LSU in Baton Rouge 34-31 and beat Florida in the Swamp 39-36 in overtime.

Or maybe it is just the percentages and that it is time for the Hogs to have some luck against the Tigers.

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