OPINION | WALLY HALL: Lots of questions, few answers for Pittman


In 2024, no one can say Arkansas is the Vanderbilt of the West.

With the additions of powerhouses Texas and Oklahoma, the SEC is going away from divisions.

Like the Commodores in the East, the Razorbacks were the cellar-dwellers this season because they lost to Mississippi State, which was also 1-7 in SEC play.

This season was not expected by the Razorbacks Nation as Coach Sam Pittman told everyone in July and August he liked this team, and it started OK on Sept. 2 in Little Rock with a 56-13 win over Western Carolina. But not a lot was learned in a game against an FCS team.

The next week was even more puzzling in Fayetteville, when the Hogs won 28-6 against Kent State, which lost to Northern Illinois on Saturday to finish the season 1-11.

No one could have known for sure but the wheels started coming off the next week at Reynolds Razorback Stadium when Brigham Young scored the final 17 points for a 38-31 win.

Arkansas then went on four road trips -- and yes, they were technically the home team in Arlington, Texas -- and came home with four more losses. But LSU needed a late field goal to win, Ole Miss scored 10 fourth-quarter points and holding Alabama to just field goal in the second half was enough to hang on to the rope of hope.

At home, the Hogs lost their sixth straight and after the 7-3 loss to a mediocre Mississippi State Pittman made a huge mistake, one he repeated several times before the season ended. He said, "I don't know."

That PR disaster combined with play of the offensive line, which was what he was considered one of the best at coaching, set the tone for radio call-in shows and fans calling for Sam to be fired.

Instead, he and Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek jointly decided to fire Dan Enos, the offensive coordinator. Being held to a single first quarter field goal and 200 yards of total offense will get you beat every time in the SEC and should get an OC fired.

The single highlight of the season happened next when Arkansas traveled to Florida -- where they had never won -- and beat the Gators 39-36 in overtime. It wasn't discussed much that Florida missed a 43-yard field goal with 44 seconds remaining in regulation that would have won the game.

The Razorbacks returned home to a great crowd to face Auburn and first year Coach Hugh Freeze. On paper the teams looked even in talent and the Hogs were favored by 2 1/2 points and lost 48-10.

A win 44-20 win over Florida International meant little.

In the season-finale at home, the Hogs were manhandled by a fine Missouri team, who held Arkansas to 78 yards in the first three quarters, and lost 48-14 to finish the season 4-8, including 2-4 at home.

The score could have been worse, but Missouri Coach Eli Drinkwitz called off the dogs when his Tigers went ahead 34-0 less than four minutes into the second half.

He substituted freely and deep into the bench and running back Cory Schrader who had 192 yards rushing at the half, carried only five times in the third quarter.

If there was one glaring area that seemed to bite the Razorbacks' behind all season, it was sacks. By the time Friday's game ended, Arkansas quarterbacks had been nailed for losses 47 times for 336 yards. Again, O-line is how Pittman made his reputation, that and recruiting.

Arkansas closed the SEC with its two worst performances being outscored by Auburn and Missouri by a total of 96-24.

It was a season that ended with more questions than it started with, and the answers need to come sooner than later.