Are Ole Miss Fans Discovering Why Arkansas Let Houston Nutt Go?
In the aftermath of now Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt's departure from Arkansas, the national media and most of the SEC media portrayed loyal Razorback fans as pitchfork carrying, delusional morons for "running off the best coach they ever had".
"Why, they ran off a loyal coach and replaced him with a mercenary scumbag" was the prevailing sentiment of the national scribes. "Those people will get out their pitchforks and run Petrino off if he has a losing season."
Bobby Petrino is a very private man who would sooner streak across the football field than reveal his thoughts on such things, but it's safe to assume that Petrino seethed last season as the Hogs struggled through a 5-7 season with a cupboard that was not exactly left well stocked.
Especially given the fact that his predecessor, Houston Nutt, was the toast of the national media, particularly the TV foofs, after leading Ole Miss to a 9-4 season in his first season in Oxford.
I can hear it now: "why open up old wounds", etc. by the head-in-the-sanders in the Arkansas camp. The point is that after last night's Ole Miss loss to South Carolina, the national media and Ole Miss fans could just as quickly turn Houston Nutt from the toast of the town to just plain toast.
Longtime Nutt watchers saw most of the same coaching blunders in that game as Razorback fans witnessed for ten years.
A flat, ill-prepared team.
A highly touted quarterback who regresses rather than progresses from one year to the next.
Penalties coming out of timeouts.
Fingernail biting on the sidelines by Houston Nutt.
Talented players such as Dexter McCluster under utilized until it's too late in the game.
Excuses and finger pointing after the game.
In the offseason, Hog fans recognized the same old soap opera that seemed to run longer than the recently cancelled Guiding Light. Nutt signed more players to letters of intent than the number of soldiers in the Iraqi Army. Nutt openly named recruits in an interview with rivals.com before they were signed.
Then Nutt pulled out his classic flirtation with another school to get a raise ploy. Mysteriously, almost immediately after Tommy Tuberville left Auburn, guess who's name came up for that job? Presto! Houston Nutt gets a big raise.
Following a disappointing 2003 season at Arkansas which ended with a lackluster win over Missouri in Shreveport, LA, Nutt knew some of his more talented players would not be back, including future Pro Bowl offensive lineman Shawn Andrews.
Almost immediately after the game, reports of Nutt taking his nail-biting act to Nebraska surfaced. Just a little over a month before national signing day. The since departed administration caved to Nutt's demands for more money and the promise of a two year free pass, unheard of in this day and age.
Sure enough, the 2004-2005 seasons brought a combined won-loss record of 9-13. "He told us it would be bad" the apologists said, as if that was acceptable. It's funny how Nutt's fans have blotted those two seasons from the record as if they never happened.
We in Arkansas get so sick of the media portrayal of Nutt as "one of the good guys" and "he does more with less". If you really want the low down on some of Nutt's antics, read this article. For now, we'll just stick to his coaching record.
In reading an Ole Miss message board last night, the first post that leaped out at me was "The Honeymoon Is Over".
Meanwhile, most, not all, but most Arkansas fans are satisfied with Bobby Petrino thus far. Knowing that without Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, early departures to the NFL, and seniors Marcus Monk, Peyton Hillis, not to mention most of the defense, no coach could have won more than 4-5 games with such a young team last season.
However, the Nutt apologists and the national media seemed determined to compare apples to oranges, comparing the rag-tag crew Petrino inherited to the talent laden Ole Miss team that lacked only a QB and a coach.
Coincidentally, Jevan Snead had sat out as a transfer in 2007 and was dropped into Nutt's lap along with 5 NFL draft picks in last April's draft. Arkansas had one player picked, just so you know.
Now, Ole Miss fans, Nutt has used his reverse Midas touch with quarterbacks on a guy some even hyped for the Heisman Trophy. Keep in mind what one of Nutt's former players at Boise State, a one year stop for Nutt on his way to Arkansas, had to say. "He's a used car salesman" the player told the Arkansas media.
Don't used car salesmen have enough to worry about with the cash for clunkers program ending than to be compared to Houston Nutt?
Meanwhile, even though the mediocre Nutt is undeniably a much better coach than Ed Orgeron, even though I don't think Nutt is any better than David Cutcliffe, who Ole Miss fired to make way for Orgeron. Most Arkansas fans consider Bobby Petrino an upgrade from Nutt, in spite of the record so far.
In an ironic twist, all three teams involved in this coaching carousel of the offseason of 2007 have benefitted. Nutt is a better coach than Orgeron. Petrino is better than Nutt and Mike Smith has done a fine job in Atlanta and is more suited for dealing with NFL millionaires than Petrino.
I can't help but wonder, however, if the fans of Ole Miss aren't going to be seaching the lawbooks for a lemon law if their used car salesman of a coach loses more games like the South Carolina fiasco.
For their part, Hog fans are satisfied with the recruits Bobby Petrino has brought in and the direction the UA program seems to be headed. The breakthrough probably won't happen against Alabama, but at some point Petrino will win a big game and the media will be left to wonder if just maybe those "delusional Arkansas fans" knew something they failed to see.
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