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Andy Hodges

Words, actions show Pittman and staffs respect for players

Hogs coach Sam Pittman built a career as an assistant by respecting his players and his assistants will, too.

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Sam Pittman is a players coach and the stark contrast with the recent past is becoming about as clear as it can get in just the first day of fall camp.

For the few who may not know, a “players coach” is one that relates to the players and he can communicate what he wants without the need to jump up and down like a catcher on the final strikeout of a World Series win.

There’s a lot of praise and not a lot of hell-raising from the coaches.

“I’m the worst one out there,” Pittman said later. “I hired guys because of how they talk to kids, how they relate to kids, how they motivate and how they can teach them. That’s exactly what we have.”

It’s a different approach. The Bobby Petrino (and to be fair some others over the years) approach where the coaching staff sounded like drill sergeants isn’t what Pittman is going to deal with.

“If I make a mistake I wouldn’t want ‘you sorry mf,’ it’s ‘hey, I’m going to teach you right,'” Pittman said. “If you do something great then I want that coach to be the loudest he can possibly be in practice.”

Pittman knows that carries over to other players.

“Other kids will see that as well and want the same thing coming their way,” he said. “More importantly, (the assistant coaches) can get the kids to play for them because they respect them.”

It’s the approach Pittman used developing offensive lines everywhere he went that were among the nation’s most highly respected. Every lineman he coached for decades will go to war defending him.

His approach has worked and is proven successful.

“Our mouth is very, very powerful,” Pittman said Friday. “The way (assistant coaches) talk to the kids, they respect that.”

Maybe the most stark thing missing in fall camp is the lack of players’ names on the front of the helmets. The Hogs had that last year, which was understandable. Some of the players didn’t meet their coaches until the summer due to covid.

The guess here is Pittman figures his coaches should know their players without needing to read the names on the helmet.

Another sign of respect and it’s also a guess the players notice.

More importantly, recruits may notice, too.

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