Pittman and Hogs love to pose with a trophy

TAMPA, Fla .– When was the last time a coach referred to a team photo as a cherished moment in time?

The idea seemed a little odd when he brought it up, but that’s the approach University of Arkansas coach Sam Pittman took over the past two weeks when he discussed in detail of the Razorbacks team photo, which took place on Sunday.

The Razorbacks donned costumes and posed in front of their three trophies inside Reynolds Razorback Stadium before heading to Tampa, Fla. And their Outback Bowl against Penn State on Saturday.

When asked on Dec. 14 whether the team was traveling separately or together to Tampa, Pittman initially bragged about the photo.

“I want to travel with the No.1 team,” Pittman said. “No. 2, I want to take the team photo that we talked about, and everyone has to be there. So we’re going to put on our wetsuits and take a photo before we go into the stadium with the three trophies. that night on his radio show, Pittman added more detail and color.

“We’re Arkansas and I say we’re a little different and proud of it,” he said before looking sad about the days of team photos in the shoulder pads.

“Before we go bowling, we’ll have our three trophies there in our costumes, because we travel in costume,” he said. “We bought them for them, or the school did. We will therefore be in the stadium with our combinations with the three trophies in front of us. The three trophies would be the Southwest Classic, the Golden Boot and the Battle Line. Arkansas reclaimed them this season with successive victories over Texas A&M, LSU and Missouri this season.

Pittman also spoke about the next phase of the photo plan.

“We’re going to move one of them out of the way and if we’re lucky enough to win the bowl game, we’re also going to photoshop the bowl trophy inside and then we’re going to give them all to the members.” of the team and they will cherish them forever in their office or at home, ”said Pittman. “But we never got all three trophies and we’ll be taking a team photo with them.”

Arkansas interrupted long losing streaks against the Aggies and both groups of Tigers to collect those trophies on campus. As if to show the team’s blue-collar approach, Pittman had the trophies placed on the Smith Center entrance floor the day after they were presented this season.

Apparently, Pittman has spoken passionately about the trophy photo ops with the team on more than one occasion.

For a football program that had lost 16 straight games with a trophy attached, perhaps Pittman’s approach was the way to go for pride and motivation. Considering the Razorbacks had never owned their three trophies at the same time, they clearly never won four trophies in a season.

The Razorbacks overheard Pittman touting the image.

“I feel like he’s the one who lets us know he’s proud of us,” said junior safety Simeon Blair. “It just keeps us working hard, because when you have a coach who’s proud of you, it makes you want to play harder for that guy because he’s showing us to the world as much as he can.

“So we have to play hard for him. It makes me want to play harder for him because of his pride in us. Springdale defensive tackle Isaiah Nichols agrees with Pine Bluff’s Blair.

“I feel like Coach Pitt always goes that extra step to make sure we get the credit for our hard work,” Nichols said. “No mistake about it, we are working. Like they ask a lot of us, but at the same time, it’s like we know this is what it takes to be successful.

“We have a fully integrated team. We were so used to losing and being the last, short stick of the field, we’re so happy to have a coach here who is leading us in the right direction and who is so proud of us. I am truly grateful to Coach Pitt. I can speak on behalf of the whole team, we are grateful for all his support and the way he shows how hard we work. Junior defensive end Zach Williams, a Joe T. Robinson graduate in Little Rock, said the Razorbacks’ end to a bowl game in Florida was like something of his dreams.

“Because when I first got here there were 2-10 of us, stuff like that,” Williams said. “I said, ‘This is a program that we have to change.’ And since I’ve been here, it’s been a big 180. It’s been awesome. The coaching team has been great. Williams’ maternal grandparents live in the Tampa / Clearwater area of ​​Florida.

It was a pretty special moment for me to know that we were playing in the Outback Bowl there, ”he said. “It makes me want to play even harder for what I have to do there.” Penn State (7-5) had a head start at the bowl site, arriving on Christmas Eve and heading to a Sunday practice at Jesuit High in Tampa. The Razorbacks took a day’s lead over the Nittany Lions by starting their bowl preparations on campus the day before their opponent Big Ten.

No. 21 ARKANSAS VS. PENN STATE

WHEN 11 a.m. Central on Saturday

OR Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida.

FILES Arkansas 8-4, State of Pennsylvania 7-5

LINE Penn State by 2

COACHES James Franklin (67-33 in eighth grade at Penn State, 91-48 in 11th grade overall); Sam Pittman (11-11 in sophomore at Arkansas)

SERIES First meeting

TV ESPN2

RADIO Razorback Sports Network

Michael E. Marquez