Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
A streetside shrine for Arkansas head football coach Sam Pittman was built at both intersections of Pittman Drive in Fayetteville. The street connects Old Wire Road to Ash Street on the east side of town.
The makeshift monuments include headshot photos of Pittman and signs that read “Turn that damn jukebox on,” which is a nod to Pittman’s comment in the locker room after a win over Mississippi State in 2020. That comment has since become a post-game catchphrase for Pittman and football fans across the state.
The second-year coach led the Razorbacks to an 8-4 record following Friday’s win against Missouri. It’s the program’s best regular-season finish since 2011. The win helped the team move up two spots to No. 23 in the Associated Press poll and re-enter the USA Today coaches poll at No. 25.
This season also marks the first time the team has reached the six-win mark for post-season bowl game eligibility since 2016. The Hogs are expected to receive a bid to a Florida-based bowl, which has not happened since the 2006 season when the Razorbacks were defeated by Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl, which is now called the Citrus Bowl.
With wins over Texas A&M, LSU and Missouri, the Razorbacks now hold all three school rivalry trophies for the first time in program history. The completion of the triple crown means the Southwest Classic, Golden Boot and Battle Line trophies will all stay with the program until at least next year when the Razorbacks face each of the teams again in the 2022 season.
Pittman said after the Missouri win he hadn’t known just how monumental of an accomplishment the triple crown actually was. He said it was only after talking to senior linebacker Grant Morgan that he realized there were no players on the current roster who had ever won any of the trophies at all.
“We don’t have a guy on our team that had any of them,” Pittman said. “Ever. Not one. So to have all three at the University of Arkansas or to beat all three of those teams in the same year for the first time, is a great tribute to those kids and to my assistant coaches.”
The team’s success on the field comes with a host of personal financial benefits for Pittman, who has now maxed out his potential pay raises for the season.
The coach’s annual salary was increased by $250,000 to $3.25 million when the team won its sixth game. The university’s contract with Pittman also called for a second $250,000 raise after a seventh win, which occurred on Nov. 13 against LSU, and another quarter-million dollar raise to $3.75 million after an eighth win.
Pittman will also receive a bonus of at least $100,000 once the bowl game invitation is sealed, and he’ll get another $150,000 bonus if the invitation is for one of the SEC’s group of six bowls, which this year include the Duke’s Mayo, Gator, Liberty, Music City, Outback and Texas bowls.
Word on the street is that Pittman, who celebrated his 60th birthday Sunday by recruiting potential new players, is a happy man in his professed dream job at Arkansas. Of course, after orchestrating one of the biggest Power 5 program turnarounds in recent memory, how could he not be?