Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Houston Nutt to Ole Miss

Just 3 years after striking out tremendously by hiring a nut as their head coach, the Ole Miss brass seems to have reversed their fortunes with the hiring of Houston Nutt. Nutt took a $.5M paycut to get out of Fayetteville, where he was the 2nd winningest head coach in Arkanasas history and had won 3 SEC West titles in 10 years, 2 of which earned the Razorbacks trips to Atlanta.

He’s stepping into a good situation in Oxford. While Orgeron couldn't coach his way out of a wet paper sack (PUNT THE BALL!), his tireless recruiting efforts restocked the barren cupboard left by former HC David Cutcliffe. Nutt is a proven winner and will come in with a chip on his shoulder and relishing the underdog role that Arkansas so often had. He’s shown an ability to win the big game (see last weekend), which is something the Rebels have lacked so desperately under Orgeron. Many times in this brief tenure, the Rebels played a superior talent close before Orgeron began to think… Once that happened, it was normally a bad thing for the Rebels.

As for the Hogs, not sure why so much of their fan base is celebrating Nutt’s departure. Sure he could have handled the Springdale situation better and he never won the SEC Championship Game anymore, but this isn’t the Southwest Conference anymore Hog fans… this is the SEC. The toughest conference in the country. You’re not going to win the conference every year and every team is going to have a down year.

Nutt was a consistent winner and rarely – if ever – had the most talented team. The Hogs won 8 games this year with nothing that even resembled a passing game with star WR Monk missing the majority of the season. His players would run through a wall for him and he would do the same. You could tell that with his interaction with McFadden after they beat the #1 team in the country on the road last weekend.

The Hogs are going to get much of the same reaction nationwide as Ole Miss got when they fired Cutcliffe 3 years ago. The difference being Cutcliffe left after a 4-7 season with no light at the end of the tunnel. Other than Patrick Willis, he left no SEC talent for his successor to work with. Meanwhile, Arkansas has won 18 games the last 2 seasons and is poised for another January bowl this year.

While the Hogs won’t turn to someone as unqualified as Orgeron, they may soon be wishing they never drove out Houston Nutt.


Nuttsucks said...

Nutt was 4-4 in the sec this year with 4 wins over Sunbelt teams. Arkansas had one of the weakest schedules in the SEC and should have won 10 games easily with 2 of the best players in the country. There is no balance in Houston's offense. We were 10 years in and he still has no passing game. He had the longest tenure at a bcs school without advancing them to a bcs bowl. He was 2-6 in bowl games and always starts off slow, including a 0-3 start in sec play in 5 of his 10 years here. We should have never hired him after going 4-7 in his first year of D1 football and we are glad he has left.

Dead Guy said...

I assure you that a large portion of the HogNation doesn't feel the same as you do. But, that's not the point of that piece.

For Ole Miss to upgrade from a man that won 3 SEC games in 3 seasons to a guy who's won the SEC West 3 times, including 2 trips to Atlanta, is quite the trade up. It's not a spectacular hire by any means, but the OM brass needed a good, safe hire, and that's what they got in HDN. He's proven he can win in the SEC.

OM hasn't had a guy who's a proven winner since Tuberville left in the late 90s.

Anonymous said...

Just for clarification: Arkansas won two outright SWC championships (88, 89) and shared three others (68, 75, 79) since 1966. They never ever dominated the SWC in football. Now basketball is a different story.

Anonymous said...

How do you figure Nutt is taking a $0.5M pay cut when he is walking away from Arkansas with a ~$3.5M buyout?

Dead Guy said...

I didn't know the exact numbers, but I knew that Arkansas had enjoyed more success in the SWC than the SEC. My only point was that so many fans wanted to run Nutt off because their expectations are unrealistic.

Nutt was a consistent winner and while he may have lost some games he was supposed to win, he typically balanced it out with an upset or two along the way.

Nutt will win consistently in Oxford and probably take them to Atlanta for the first time in school history in the next few years. The question for Arkansas is if they can find a guy who win as consistently as Nutt did there.

Dead Guy said...

He was offered a $2.4M/year extension but turned it down. He's making ~$1.9M at Ole Miss now.

Nuttsucks said...

You are right about some of the Hognation feeling different because he has tottally divided us and we needed a fresh start. You are also right about him being a great upgrade for Ole Miss. He is a 7 win coach and that is great for some that strive to be average. He will get you 3 or 4 sec wins a year and will get you 3 wins against cupcakes every year. Arkansas is not a recruiting hot bed for any means, but has had some great players during Nutts Tenure. We loss the top 4 players from our state last year to other schools in our confrence. Then we find out from some of their fathers that Nutt didnt really bother contacting them? He was too busy texting local news anchors instead. He is gone and its a good thing.

Dead Guy said...

At least for now, I would say the RebelNation would be very pleased with a 7-win season, particularly since that means there will be at least a few SEC wins thrown in there.

Orgeron only won 3 SEC games in his 3 years in Oxford, but he did leave a lot of talent for Nutt to work with. They've got a good group of receivers , a good RB coming in from UCLA, and a good QB coming in from Texas.

The Rebels will be very happy just to be relevant again.

Anonymous said...

As a 95 grad of Arkansas, I have to agree with dead guy. Given the tremendous competition in recruiting from all the SEC plus the Texas schools, and the Big 12 schools, Nutt did a fantastic job at Arkansas. The notion that Arkansas can win and/or be in the national championship mix year in and year out is delusional. The fans like nuttsucks need to be realistic. Razorback fans will rue the day that a good coach like Nutt was run out of town on a rail by the likes of nuttsucks.

Anonymous said...

Nutt will be a good coach for us I believe. I still can't believe he was run off from Arkansas. He did a good job there.

It is now May and I can tell you that Nutt has got this team 6xs better than what Coach O had. The Spring Game showed that. Our running game is going to be great and our QB will pretty good with our WRs returning. Ole Miss could go anywhere from 6-6 to 8-4 this season. I say 6-6 with an invite to the Independence Bowl.

me said...

I don't think there's any doubt that Ole Miss will be significantly better this season than last. I think that 8 wins is probably a stretch, but 6-7 is certainly an attainable goal. The Rebels could very well be in Shreveport or Memphis come bowl season.