It was only a sport. However, oh, what a sport it was.
It was precisely what the Arkansas Razorback soccer program wanted. It was what Razorback followers wanted, too.
The fantastic thing about sports activities occasions is they cannot be scripted. However a greater script for what unfolded final Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium could not have been written. On a heat night in Fayetteville in entrance of a raucous crowd and a nationwide tv viewers, Coach Sam Pittman’s Arkansas soccer crew outclassed and completely manhandled the Texas Longhorns from begin to end in a sport long-awaited by Razorback followers.
Regardless of official considerations by some about public well being, the stadium was packed and the environment was electrical. For the almost 75,000 individuals who had been on the sport, it was a welcome respite from an 18-month pandemic that also continues to frustrate and plague our state and nation. A full stadium with the attendant pageantry and the loud, fixed roar from the capability crowd appeared to revive some normalcy to the rhythm of life in Arkansas within the fall.
On the calendar, the Texas sport occurred to be performed on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, a day Individuals alive on the time will always remember, as if we might ever neglect what we noticed on tv the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when america was attacked by terrorists, tragically killing almost 3,000 harmless Individuals and ceaselessly altering our nation.
Contained in the stadium on Saturday, the solemnity of the that means of 9/11 and the palpable pleasure and power of the large sport towards Texas merged.
To its credit score, the college did a pleasant job previous to kickoff and at moments throughout the sport discovering significant methods to provide the massive crowd an opportunity to hitch collectively as fellow Individuals to mirror and correctly memorialize those that had been misplaced 20 years in the past in New York, Washington and Shanksville, in addition to honor our navy and first-responders. Followers reveled within the current as they watched the Razorbacks repeatedly run towards the top zone for touchdowns in a dominating win but collectively paused at occasions to respectfully pay tribute to the true heroes who ran towards hazard on 9/11.
It is enjoyable to be a Hog fan nowadays. Each Razorback sports activities crew, each males’s and ladies’s, is on an upward arc with no restrict to what every of them can obtain. For a fan base ravenous for a return to nationwide relevance, the great ol’ days are again. Hunter Yurachek, who’s doing an excellent job main the athletics division, deserves a substantial amount of credit score for making that occur. Yurachek will get it. He understands our state and has everybody on the identical web page. He clearly discovered the precise basketball coach in Eric Musselman. And now it appears fairly apparent he discovered the precise soccer coach in Sam Pittman.
After paying his dues and ready a very long time for a possibility to be a head coach, nobody deserved the happiness the win over Texas engendered greater than Sam Pittman. It should have been very satisfying for him to see the followers flood onto the sphere when the sport ended and to expertise the pleasure and pleasure coursing by the locker room afterwards. But true to type, Pittman gave all of the credit score to others.
Arkansas and Pittman are an ideal match. He is considered one of us. That is residence for him. He desires to be right here and that is the place he desires to educate till he retires.
Pittman is “actual” in each sense of the phrase. Plain-spoken, genuine and sincere to the core, he’s who he’s. In as we speak’s world, that is excessive reward. Markedly completely different than so many others within the teaching career, Pittman is shortly changing into a breath of contemporary air for school soccer.
A coach is just nearly as good as his final sport however briefly order Coach Pittman has created a profitable tradition and is aware of find out how to construct a stable soccer program, one able to efficiently competing at a excessive degree within the difficult Southeastern Convention. Recruits imagine in him. Gamers imagine in and play laborious for him. He tells the reality. Folks belief him. He is a category act. The College of Arkansas is lucky to have Pittman on the helm of its soccer program.
One private considered final Saturday’s sport. I want my late father might have been within the stadium to witness the win over Texas. He liked the Razorbacks and detested the Longhorns. He would have wallowed within the victory and would have walked out of the stadium on Cloud 9, simply as these of us who had been there did.