Sam Pittman coaching for Arkansas against FIU. Nov 18, 2023; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman during the fourth quarter against the FIU Panthers at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas won 44-20. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Information presented on game broadcasts is under a new level of scrutiny this week following Charissa Thompson saying “I would make up the report sometimes” about her past sideline reporting work. The latest discussion there is about a game analyst rather than a sideline reporter, though. And that’s about Rod Gilmore’s comments on Arkansas Razorbacks’ head coach Sam Pittman’s view on his job status during an ESPNU broadcast of the Razorbacks’ 44-20 home win over the FIU Panthers Saturday.

During that broadcast, Gilmore said “We talked to him yesterday, and he said I am not being fired this year. He said he had a two hour meeting with his athletic director on Sunday, and all is good. They haven’t forgotten what he’s done with this program.” But after the game, Pittman said “I don’t remember having that conversation” with Gilmore and play-by-play voice Brian Custer:

“I don’t remember having that conversation with those guys,” Pittman said. “That’s not for me to… [Athletic director] Hunter (Yurachek), you guys need to ask him all that kind of stuff.”

On Sunday, though, Gilmore weighed in and defended his relaying of this:

And Yurachek actually confirmed that Pittman will coach the Razorbacks for at least the rest of the year, and Custer passed that on with an interesting remark, which Gilmore retweeted:

Meanwhile, in that postgame discussion, Pittman also went off on media reporting on his job status in general:

“I will say this, guys, when we start talk about firing and all this, it kills us in recruiting,” Pittman said. “It does. Especially when we fabricate stories and put it out. It kills us in recruiting when we give opinions about who’s coming in and all those type things. It kills us.

“I’ve got a wife and she’s a human being. People put out stuff that’s not true. I know it’s an opinion world now, but I don’t think I’m getting fired guys or he would’ve told me I’m getting fired. I’m not for sure why I have to answer these questions or not, but I think I don’t.”

Like he has multiple times in the past week, Pittman said the rumors swirling regarding his position is the fault of the media.

“We’ll kill recruiting if we keep talking about it,” Pittman said. “If you’re an Arkansas fan, it’s going to hurt us. The media has become opinions. I wish we would post the facts. Whatever the facts are, we can deal with it.”

Given his other comments on the problems he has with people saying he’s getting fired, it’s interesting that Pittman took specific exception to Gilmore presenting a report that Pittman said he doesn’t think he will be fired. Now, Pittman obviously can do that if he really thinks Gilmore’s comments were inaccurate, but it’s interesting that he isn’t specifically noting what he takes issue with there, other than “I don’t remember having that conversation with those guys.” It seems highly unlikely Gilmore would have completely made this up, especially with the detail of the two-hour meeting.

It’s possible that Gilmore misunderstood something about that meeting, or that something got garbled in Pittman’s relaying of it to Gilmore and then Gilmore’s on-air summary of it. But that’s why it would be nice to hear a more specific complaint here from Pittman. Did he really not tell Gilmore about a two-hour meeting, and did he really not say he was confident he’d keep his job? (Which, given his comments complaining about rumors that he might lose it, it does feel like he is confident in keeping it.)

If so, that’s a big problem for Gilmore and ESPN. But this more general complaint by Pittman doesn’t necessarily feel like a ton, especially given Gilmore’s defense. It will be interesting to see if Pittman offers anything more specific on this front, though.

As noted, this takes on extra dimensions considering Thompson’s comments this week and the discussions those have sparked. Thompson has since tried to walk her initial remarks back with “I have never lied about anything” and claims that she would only present comments as her own analysis rather than coaches’ comments in those situations. But the damage has been done. And that’s going to have many looking more skeptically at information presented on broadcasts, including from analysts as well as coaches.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.