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.