Houston...We Don't Have a Problem!

Derek StephensSenior Analyst IJuly 11, 2008

Arkansas fans needs to get the facts straight. We (Ole Miss) didn't get their sloppy seconds. He chose Ole Miss instead of the talent-depleted Arkansas Razorbacks, which would make Arkansas the sloppy seconds.

After the upset over the No. 1 team in the nation, LSU, Frank Broyles and Arkansas offered Nutt a two-year extension for $2.4 million a year. He declined the offer.

Houston Nutt resigned from the Arkansas Razorbacks, and then hours later, was in negotiations with Ole Miss for their head-coaching job.

On Nov. 26, 2007, Houston Nutt agreed to a four-year contract worth around $1.7 million per year.

Let's do the math here: $2.4 million dollar extension or $1.7 million dollar contract?

Houston Nutt basically took a salary cut, but does he take a hit in talent?

The best running-back duo in the country, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, both declared for the NFL Draft. Also gone are WR Marcus Monk and FB Peyton Hillis. 

So, can you do it? Can you name me a current Arkansas Razorback player? Wait, there's "All-Star" Casey Dick, a QB the Arkansas faithful once hated in 2006 when he took the starting job away from Mitch Mustain (much to the disapproval of Mustain's mommy). 

So, we've basically declared that Ole Miss has more talent than Arkansas. Disagree? Be sure to check out my past article:

The Battle Upfront: Three Ole Miss Players named to Early NFL Mock Draft

Okay, now that we have that settled. 

So, I hear this all the time: "Nutt really didn't impress me as a head coach at Arkansas." Let's just go ahead and prove that wrong as well.

Houston Nutt basically rebuilt the Arkansas program. The football program at Arkansas was 38-51-2 from 1990-1997. On Dec. 10, 1997, Houston Nutt was named head coach. Over the past decade, Houston Nutt has compiled a 75-48 record as head coach for Arkansas, while going 42-38 in the SEC.

In his first season, he earned a 9-3 record and an SEC West title with a team that had decent talent. He was also named the National Coach of the Year that year. 

Now, let's take a look at the Ole Miss past and present. Does Ole Miss have what it takes to get over the hump and be an elite SEC program? Of course they do! 

Ole Miss, in case you haven't visited, has one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, some of the nicest facilities, and they are upgrading by the year. An above-average stadium (holds over 60,000), historic gameday traditions, and state-of-the-art indoor football practice facility are just a few of the selling points. It is possible to recruit with success at Ole Miss.

David Cutcliffe, former coach for Ole Miss before Ed Orgeron, had great success on the field, but was criticized for recruiting efforts (particularly after Eli was signed). After a disappointing four-win season, coming off a 10-win season (yep, you guessed it, the year after Eli left), the administration demanded changes in staff and detailed recruiting plans and Cutcliffe refused. He was fired.

The Ole Miss administration then thought their problems had been solved as they went after a coach who could recruit: former recruiter of the year by Rivals.com, Ed Orgeron. 

The problem obviously with Ed Orgeron wasn't recruiting, which he did very well, proving that Ole Miss can have huge success in the recruiting game, but it was success on the field that he couldn't overcome.

After three seasons as head coach and only 10 wins (three being over C-USA Memphis), on Nov. 24, 2007, Ed Orgeron was fired. 

Then, I believe the staff did something that was very unexpected. They went after a proven SEC head coach in Houston Nutt. Houston Nutt couldn't refuse after the warm welcome and taking a look at all the prized recruits Orgeron had brought in, many of which have had two years to experience the SEC.

Now, let's look at Ole Miss in the future.

Ole Miss has a head coach that they believe is a mix between a great recruiter and great gameday coach. As we have seen, Houston Nutt can coach under pressure in big games: see LSU vs. Arkansas 2007.

It could be argued that Houston Nutt is looking at more talent on the field than what he was offered in his first season at Arkansas, which was the team that he won nine games with.

"Wait, what are you saying Derek? Are you saying Ole Miss could win the SEC West title?"

No, anything's possible, but I think it's going to be a couple years before Ole Miss is in contention for an SEC West title, but I do believe Ole Miss won't be the walkover that everyone seems to think they're going to be.  

For the first time since 2003, you see Ole Miss fans say that the talent is in place. Many fans know though, that although Ole Miss hasn't had success in wins in the past year, they have played many teams close such as Alabama, Florida, LSU, and Mississippi State. 

So, SEC West, I would say, "Look out for Ole Miss in the SEC West", but let's play it your way. Let's go into games and say, "Well, it's just Ole Miss, sure W", and then go home with a different tune. With Houston Nutt on the sidelines, it's a new era, and as I said (with a little bit of a homer tone), anything is possible.

A winning season could even be probable.

I would love to hear your feedback. Please leave any comments or questions you have in the comment box below. If you haven't registered, take two minutes of your time and do it. If you would like to add me as a fan, I would surely appreciate it! Thanks and God Bless You!
Derek Stephens is an Ole Miss Community Leader for BleacherReport.com.


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