All aboard the Sam prepare

Previous winners

m Previous 10 Sportsman of the 12 months winners

2020 Louis Cella, Oaklawn proprietor, president

2019 Lance Harter, UA observe and subject

2018 Dave Van Horn, UA baseball

2017 Blaise Taylor, ASU soccer

2016 Jeff Henderson, Olympic gold medalist

2015 Brandon Allen, UA soccer

2014 Fifth-year senior ASU soccer gamers

2013 Ken Duke, skilled golfer

2012 Jeff Lengthy, UA athletic director

2011 Louis Lee, novice golfer

2010 Bobby Petrino, UA soccer

FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman speaks Arkansan.

It is not some new dialect, only a down-to-earth type with a sluggish supply that appeals to the hard-working individuals of the Pure State.

Pittman acquired off to an ideal begin because the College of Arkansas head soccer coach along with his introductory information convention, when the enormity of the second triggered his coronary heart to swell and tears to fall as he needed to take a second to compose himself.

He constructed on that relationship with a comparatively spectacular 3-7 debut towards an all-SEC schedule throughout the coronavirus season of 2020, lifting Arkansas off the mat and snapping a 20-game SEC dropping streak. Then he topped that with an 8-4 file, a peak at No. 8 in The Related Press Prime 25 after victories over rivals Texas and Texas A&M, and a berth within the Outback Bowl towards Penn State on Jan. 1.

For Pittman’s efforts in 2021 he has earned the title of Arkansas Sportsman of the 12 months as chosen by the workers of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“Nicely, it means rather a lot,” Pittman mentioned. “You recognize Arkansas means rather a lot to me. I’ve tried to clarify it in several methods. It grows on you every year and I wager you it does on all people.

“It is concerning the individuals, concerning the ardour, about how lovely the state is and the price of residing. All the pieces is admittedly nice within the state of Arkansas, however the individuals is what makes the distinction. I am very honored to be named the Sportsman of the 12 months.”

Pittman beat out a handful of excessive achievers to tug down the honour.

The checklist of honorable mentions consists of Bryant soccer Coach Buck James, Arkansas pitcher Kevin Kopps, Arkansas basketball Coach Eric Musselman, and Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek.

James led the Bryant Hornets to their fourth consecutive Class 7A state championship this month, his fifth as a prep head coach, together with one at Camden-Fairview.

Kopps had probably the greatest seasons ever for a collegiate pitcher whereas main Arkansas to SEC common season and match titles. Kopps completed 12-1 with 11 saves and a 0.90 earned run common. He had 131 strikeouts and 18 walks and allowed 50 hits in 89 2/3 innings.

Musselman guided the Razorbacks to a 25-7 file and a 13-4 SEC mark, and engineered a run to the NCAA’s Elite Eight. Arkansas received 12 consecutive video games towards SEC competitors and performed in an NCAA regional ultimate for the primary time since 1996.

Yurachek oversaw an athletic division that surged in efficiency throughout the covid-19 disaster and received a file 10 SEC championships in 2021.

Pittman’s achievement gave Arkansas its first eight-win common season because the 2010 and 2011 groups received 10 video games every.

“This is what I say about Sam Pittman: Sam Pittman is Sam Pittman,” Yurachek mentioned. “He’s who he’s. He isn’t making an attempt to be anybody apart from Sam Pittman and I feel typically not solely coaches however directors attempt to be somebody they don’t seem to be.

“He’s as real as they arrive and our gamers see that. His workers that he has surrounded himself with sees that and it helps you construct a tradition the place the coaches consider within the student-athletes and the student-athletes consider within the coaches and that the coaches are placing them ready to achieve success.

“As a younger man on that soccer subject, you are keen to do no matter it takes to your teammates and your teaching workers to not allow them to down. That is what Sam has created with that tradition.”

Pittman got here to the Razorbacks with a blueprint for hiring coaches, for speaking with gamers, for recruiting and instilling toughness.

One important a part of the job that got here pure to Pittman was the convenience with which he related with Razorback followers.

“I hope they’ll simply really feel my love for the state of Arkansas,” Pittman mentioned. “I do not know if you may get that some other method than simply being within the state.”

Pittman got here from his hometown of Grove, Okla., to camps at Arkansas below Coach Lou Holtz within the late Seventies, and he fell for the Razorbacks then.

It took he and his spouse, Jamie, 13 earlier teaching stops over 30 years to lastly land at Arkansas. Pittman got here aboard along with his buddy and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney on Coach Bret Bielema’s unique Arkansas workers in 2013.

Over the course of these three seasons, Pittman burnished his status with extraordinary recruiting that led to some of the extremely touted offensive strains within the nation in 2015. The five-some of middle Mitch Smothers of Springdale, guards Sebastian Tretola and Frank Ragnow from California and Minnesota, respectively, and tackles Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper of Florida and Colorado, respectively, graced the duvet of the 2015 Arkansas soccer media information.

“You recognize after I was right here in ’13, ’14 and ’15 I recruited onerous for the college and it was simple as a result of I believed in it,” Pittman mentioned. “So I feel once more, I feel it goes again to the individuals and the eagerness that the state has for the Hogs.”

Travis Swanson, whose senior 12 months as UA’s beginning middle in 2013 overlapped with Pittman’s first 12 months as offensive line coach, was requested if he knew Pittman would win this massive this early.

“I knew he was going to win the group over,” Swanson mentioned.

And that Pittman did.

“Since his first assembly, sure completely,” senior offensive sort out Dalton Wagner mentioned on the “Sam Pittman Dwell” radio present on Dec. 14. “He got here in and the very first thing he talked about was making an attempt to earn all people’s belief, all people’s respect and admiration. And he efficiently did that within the matter of some weeks.

“He turned it round like nobody may see it from the surface once we have been doing all our winter conditioning and winter power coaching. After which in fact covid hit, in order that’s most likely one of many hardest issues for head coaches.

“However he got here in and he handled it like a champ. He turned this program round in a matter of a 12 months to a 12 months and a half and he is executed an amazing job. From his first assembly, everybody cherished him.”

Sixth-year senior linebacker Grant Morgan mentioned he wouldn’t have come again for a ultimate season for some other coach than Pittman.

“I anticipated us to win each sport after I got here again as a result of I knew what kind of man Coach Pittman was, I knew what kind of men we’ve got on this group,” Morgan mentioned after accepting the Burlsworth Trophy because the nation’s prime participant who started his profession as a walk-on.

Referring to gamers and speaking with each workers and gamers are Pittman logos he confused from his introductory information convention ahead.

“He is very a lot a blue-collar man,” Yurachek mentioned. “Arkansas is a blue-collar state and it is a blue-collar mentality once you take a look at our soccer group.

“I imply there was by no means a sport that we did not play onerous. Even within the Georgia sport once we have been getting overwhelmed fairly soundly, our guys fought till the very finish of that sport as onerous as they may.”

Pittman reciprocated reward for his work proper again on the gamers.

“It simply exhibits we’ve got good youngsters that consider of their coaches, that perceive that effort and physicality and doing the suitable issues can win ballgames for you,” Pittman mentioned. “In case you make individuals beat you. In different phrases, for those who earn what you are gonna get and make them earn what they’re gonna get, you’ve got acquired an opportunity. I consider that, and I am actual pleased with them.”