Arkansas football: How long will Sam Pittman's leash be in 2024?

Nov 18, 2023; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman during the
Nov 18, 2023; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman during the / Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

If you're Sam Pittman and Arkansas football, you want to forget that the 2023 season ever happened. You returned KJ Jefferson and Rocket Sanders and expectations were at an all-time high after just sneaking into a bowl game the season before.

The Razorbacks had been trending in the right direction under Pittman in his first two years, leading the program out of the SEC's gutter, winning nine games in 2021.

And then in 2022, the Razorbacks regressed. They went just 7-6 and it felt like an outlier given the fact that Pittman had turned the program back into a winner in the previous couple of seasons after Chad Morris had run it into the ground. He was able to actually win SEC games which was something Morris never did. But after a 7-6 season in 2022 and 4-8 campaign in 2023, is he proving to be just a stepping stone head coach to bridge the gap between Morris and whoever takes over next?

It's hard to truly answer that, but there were rumors near the end of the 2023 regular season that Pittman was going to be fired and he ultimately survived and is heading into the 2024 season on the hot seat.

But just how short will his leash be?

After two straight years of regression and now heading into 2024 with a new quarterback, Arkansas needs to show some sort of progress under Pittman. He's 23-25 overall as head coach but just 11-23 in SEC play. He needs to probably go at least .500 in conference play and win 7-8 games in order to keep his job heading into 2025.

Is that possible with the Razorbacks' schedule?

These are the games I think Arkansas will win:

vs. Arkansas Pine-Bluff
vs. UAB
at Mississippi State
vs. Louisiana Tech

Yes, that's only four wins. The rest of the schedule is brutal. The Razorbacks will travel to Missouri, Oklahoma State, Auburn, and they'll face Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium. Then they play Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss, and Texas. The schedule will feature potentially seven ranked opponents and that in itself will make for a nightmare slate.

In order for Sam Pittman to keep his job through 2025, he will need to pull off at least 2-3 upsets of ranked opponents and beat the four teams they're supposed to. Oh, and he'll probably need to win a bowl game.

The battle is going to be severely uphill for Arkansas and Pittman.