5 worst Arkansas football head coaching hires

Let's look back at the history of Arkansas football and examine the careers of the five worst Arkansas football head coaches of all-time.
Western Kentucky v Arkansas
Western Kentucky v Arkansas / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages
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There are few fanbases more passionate about football than those who live and die by the Arkansas Razorbacks. So naturally, everyone in the Natural State seems to have an opinion about the men entrusted to run the Arkansas football program.

Thus far, there have been 33 head coaches in Fayetteville (not including interim head coaches). Of that group, 14 have a career winning percentage at Arkansas below .500.

Of course, as we look back at some of the disastrous hires, we will stick to relatively modern coaches. Men such as A.D. Brown (who went just 6-11 overall in 1904-05, a .353 winning percentage) or George Cole and John Tomlin (each of whom had just one losing season while leading the Razorbacks during World War II) won't be analyzed here because the nature of the sport is so vastly different now and also because not many fans know or care about such ancient football history.

Still, there are plenty of poor coaching hires to look back on. Arkansas is in a tough spot in trying to compete in the best football conference in the nation, one with several blue bloods to rule the schoolyard and one that has two more set to arrive this summer. Thus, the job in Fayetteville is going to be even tougher moving forward. That's not good for the No. 5 coach on our list.

No. 5: Sam Pittman (2020-present)

Just because a guy is likable doesn't make him the right person to lead a major college football program. That seems to be why Sam Pittman was hired in 2019 to lead the Razorbacks, though.

It certainly wasn't because he was a hot name in the industry or because he had the reputation for being a schematic genius on either side of the ball. Rather, at the time, Arkansas acted like it needed a figure to rally around and Pittman fit the bill. But if unifying people is all a coach can do, he should be hired as the team mascot, not the head coach.

Now, Pittman enters 2024 on the hottest of seats. Though his overall winning percentage is .528 (19-17), his flaws are beginning to show in a big way. He's proving that it takes more than being a nice guy to win in the S.E.C.

Over the last two seasons, Arkansas is just 11-14 combined. What's more, Pittman is just 10-16 in conference games since taking over. Also, he's produced only one winning regular season (2021).

The problem with Pittman is that he appears to be out over his skis as a head coach. That's not surprising given that he had never been a head coach at the FBS or even FCS levels prior to getting his current gig.

That fact has shown through at the most in opportune of times. Last fall, after an inexcusable 7-3 loss to a terrible Mississippi State team, Pittman was asked why he took a delay of game penalty late in the 4th quarter instead of either deciding to kick a long field goal or go for it on 4th-and-short, his response was simply, "I didn't know what to do to be perfectly honest with you".

That's not the answer a seasoned head coach would give. Rather, it is an honest remark from the heart of a good guy. But again, in the S.E.C. and with all of the resources Arkansas has put into its football program, the Razorbacks deserve a coach who at least knows what he wants to do in terms of late-game management.

Pittman will be lucky to survive the 2024 season. This fall his team must play at Oklahoma State, Auburn, and Missouri while hosting Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU, and Texas. Thus, it seems that Pittman's days are numbered.

Of course, he never should have had any days as head coach at Arkansas to begin with. That's not his fault, of course, but rather the fault of the administration who took the easy route and went with a coach who is likable but who is rather clueless - a real-life teddy bear who has the ability to comfort at times but who shows no propensity for building something great.