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Sam Pittman's Stability in Depths of Razorbacks' Decade of Despair

After 10 years of wallowing around in a continuous slide, getting eight wins is stability above all else

In Sam Pittman's world, getting eight wins is probably not the goal but a stepping stone.

But it was big for hope in Arkansas' fan base.

After the Razorbacks' 34-17 win over Missouri on Friday, Pittman admitted he was probably like the rest of us back in August when he was asked when he knew what this team was going to be.

"Never," he said. "I knew we had a good group of kids. In the SEC you've got to win some close games to have a good season."

There were a couple of games he'd probably like to have back or played at different times on the schedule.

"As much as people talk about us not making it at Ole Miss (on a two-point conversion instead of playing for overtime)," Pittman said, "ya'll were out here at Mississippi State and it was pretty close, too.

"Ya'll were at LSU. Usually in a season you can probably take away here and get back over here ..."

Well, that last part is Pittmanese for saying things tend to balance themselves out over the course of a season with some breaks going your way and others going against you.

It happens to everybody.

A lot of where that final record stacks up depends on things coaches can't control in terms of what other teams do.

Coaches hate things they can't control.

"To sit here with 8-4, it's not just 8-4, guys, it's that you're going to finish in the higher end of the SEC," he said. "It's not only who you're behind but who you're ahead of.

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"If you really look at it, 8-4 is pretty good with our schedule."

That was the toughest in the country before the season. A lot of that was because they couldn't play themselves, so we'll see how that plays out in the end.

For the Hogs, they didn't convert that 2-point conversion in Oxford and catching Auburn when they were the hottest they were all season didn't help.

What helped was an over-rated Texas team and Texas A&M still trying to figure things out.

Everything tends to balance out. In the end, though, you are what your record says you are.

For Pittman and the Hogs' faithful, though, the hope probably is that it's a step to getting back to competing for a championship.

"We don't want to accept it, I mean we don't want to get used to it," he said before it may have dawned on him how bad things were for the Hogs before he arrived.

Just to refresh everyone's memory, they won just 12 games the previous three seasons combined and eight in the two seasons before he started.

"Well, 8-4, depending on what your schedule is sometimes is pretty good," Pittman said. "But to have the hardest schedule in football and be 8-4 ... we got embarrassed against Georgia but after that we were in every game."

All of that is to say this season was a big accomplishment and that shouldn't get lost.

But it's probably not the ultimate goal of where everybody wants the program to be.


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