Inside My Head

(insert witty tagline here so people will think I’m cool)

My Take On Nutt

Posted by Kevin on November 28, 2007

But first a little repeat posting of events that lead up to Nutt’s hiring…

When Ole Miss ran David Cutcliffe out of town after the 2004 season, Athletic Director Pete Boone‘s mission was to find a coach with previous head coaching experience, a player’s coach, someone with ties to the South, someone who ran an aggressive defense and/or an innovative offense.  He talked to a number of prospects, some who fit the “requirements”, some who didn’t.  He reportedly offered the job to as many as four candidates if you believe everything you read on the Internet.  He did announce Dennis Erickson had agreed to become the Ole Miss coach but the deal fell through at the last minute.  Boone was desperate.  He had to have a coach and he had to have one immediately.

So he hired Ed Orgeron, a candidate who fit a grand total of one of his coaching requirements: he’s from the South.  Orgeron was an assistant head coach at Southern Cal and served as the head recruiter and defensive line coach.  He helped USC win two national titles, and prior to that had served on a University of Miami coaching staff that also won a national championship.  He was also essentially the only person that openly advocated for wanting the job at Ole Miss.

When Orgeron was hired to replace Cutcliffe he came to Oxford promising Sugar Bowls and national championships.  After all, he’d been a part of three different national championship coaching staffs.  He had the formula.

In three years at the helm, Orgeron’s teams won 10 games total, 3 in the SEC.  Clearly, he was in over his head as a head coach.  Boone tried to spin it that Orgeron inherited a bad situation from Cutcliffe, but in three years the program did not take a single step forward.  Instead, it took five steps backwards.

Orgeron was fired the day after his team lost a 14-point fourth quarter lead to arch rival Mississippi State to close out a winless SEC record for the first time in 25 years.  Many Rebel fans are still harping on his blundered call to go for it on 4th-and-1 at his own 49 yard line with 10 minutes to go in the game.  State stuffed the play and the comeback was on.

That brings us to Houston Nutt.

Nutt resigned Monday evening as the head football coach at Arkansas after 10 years.  He turned down a pay raise to stay at Arkansas and chose to walk away from his dream job citing that he felt it was best for everyone involved.  In resigning he said he hoped it would help mend the split fanbase and help Arkansas beat as one heart again.

That must have been one of the toughest decisions he’s ever had to make.  See…. Nutt is Arkansas Razorback through and through.  He was born in Little Rock.  His late father is in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.  His brothers are coaches in Arkansas sports.  Houston was the last player recruited by the legendary Frank Broyles before he retired  from coaching.  He started for the Razorback football team as a freshman and also played for the school’s Southwestern Conference championship basketball team as a freshman.  He had several stints as an assistant coach for the Razorbacks before being named the school’s head football coach in 1997.  In 10 years as the head coach, Nutt lead Arkansas to seven bowl games (four New Year’s day bowls) and two SEC conference championship games.

As much as Nutt fits what Ole Miss needs in a head coach, he also comes with some baggage.  After failing to make a bowl game in 2004 and 2005, Nutt was forced to make changes on his staff.  Of particular note was his hiring of Springdale High School’s head coach Gus Malzahn.  Along with Malzahn came highly recruited quarterback Mitch Mustain and receiver Damain Williams.  Mustain did play and led the Hogs to 8 straight wins before being benched for the originally projected starter, Casey Dick.  Somewhere during all of this, a handful of parents of the spoiled-brat club (the Springdale High kids) decided they had the clout to tell AD Broyles how the football team should be run and that their precious kids should be playing every snap.  Mustain’s parents were upset that the offense was being geared more towards all-everything running back Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.  After the 2006 season, Malzahn left to take a similar position at Tulsa.  The next day, Mustain requested permission to transfer to USC where his former high school teammate Williams had already transferred.  Then you have the allegations of his inappropriate relationship and text messaging with a local Arkansas TV news reporter.  Nutt denied she was anything more than a friend and colleague; one he text messaged thousands of times.

To me, neither of these issues would be any reason to not hire him.  I think hope Nutt learned a valuable lesson with the Springdale High bratpack and will never put himself in that position again just to land a couple of recruits.  As for the text messaging thing, as far as I’m concerned that is business for him and his wife to work out; it’s none of the public’s business.

Houston Nutt is a proven winner.  He walked into a losing Arkansas program and immediately turned it around.  He arrives in Oxford and inherits another losing program, but one with talent at its disposal.  Surely at least enough talent to do better than 3-9.

I’m not an Ole Miss fan.  I don’t keep up with their depth chart so all I can look for is names I recognize from seeing them show up in game coverage.  What I do see is of the seniors they will lose this year, only BenJarvus Green-Ellis will be missed.  Everyone else is easily replaceable.  That’s a good thing for a new coach coming in.  Ole Miss has highly touted quarterback Jevan Snead ready to take over the offense and will have talented weapons around him to work with.  I have no idea what they have coming for recruits, but I expect Nutt will be able to pick up where Orgeron left off and keep players committed to the program.  If anything, he may be able to get a few commitments that were out of Orgeron’s reach to add to the group.

So…. all in all, I say well done Rebel Nation.  Boone should still be fired but my guess is he’ll hold onto his job for now, although the rumor mill is spinning wildly about Boone being fired in January and Archie Manning stepping in as interim AD until a replacement can be found.  Sounds far-fetched, but in this crazy world you never know…

My prediction for the 2008 Rebels: 6-7 wins and a bowl game.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: