Well, it is official. The coaching staff at Ole Miss is not responsible for the Rebels' poor start to the 2010 football season.
Houston Nutt listed many reasons for his team's 1-2 start, but coaching was not one of them.
Arkansas fans complained about this failure to take responsibility until they were blue in the face. Now it's Ole Miss' turn to experience the used car salesman tactics of Houston Nutt.
Shifting the blame to his players is one of the traits that Nutt has been infamous for during his career.
This week Nutt blamed the Rebels' poor showing on a dysfunctional offensive line, a stagnant running game, and a defense that's prone to giving up big plays. There was plenty of blame to go around.
Nutt also mentioned Jeremiah Masoli. He stated, "In this last game, we would have liked him to take care of the ball more. He's probably trying to do a little too much and be Superman on every play. There are some things that he forced, and he knows that. We emphasized that very hard yesterday. He just needs to take care of the ball more and realize that every play is not all on him."
Nutt also referred to his defensive line, which was supposed to be the team's stalwart this year. At least Nathan Stanley didn't get blamed for anything. It seems the only guys safe from any blame on Houston Nutt's football teams are the players who ride the bench and the coaching staff.
Let's recap the villains here. Ole Miss has fallen to the basement of the SEC because of a dysfunctional offensive line, a stagnant running game, an inexperienced defensive backfield, a defensive line that has regressed and not stepped up, and Masoli turning the ball over too much. Yeah, that about covers Nutt's assessment of the situation.
Wait a minute. What's missing in that assessment? Oh, I know—any responsibility at all for the coaching staff!
Nutt forgot to mention the lack of coaching adjustments over the first three games. He didn't mention the pathetic play calling. He didn't mention the continued attempts to run straight up the middle, even when Ole Miss was behind by two touchdowns with five minutes left against Vanderbilt. He didn't mention the ultra-conservative play calls during the first two games.
I wonder who calls those plays. Oh wait, isn't it Houston Nutt who sends in the plays for the offense?
The humble coach also forgot to mention the fact that his teams have been totally unprepared and unmotivated to play so far this season. His only comment about the Rebels' second half malaise was that he had never seen anything like it. Oh really?
All of this shines a little different light on the situation.
Could it maybe be that the offensive line is a bit dysfunctional because of poor coaching? Could it be that the defensive line, thought to be one of the best in the SEC, has regressed because of coaching issues? It is the same talented players, so what has changed?
How about Jeremiah Masoli? For the third year Nutt has had a Heisman-quality quarterback that is prone to mental mistakes and turnovers. Could this maybe have to do with how the player is coached? The talent is obviously there. Yet both Jevan Snead and Masoli have made the same types of mistakes over and over. Hmm...
Houston Nutt seems to lack the coaching skills to develop talented players. Then when his players don't perform, due to lack of proper preparation or poor coaching, he hangs them out to dry. It's Snead's fault. It's Masoli's fault. It's the offensive line's fault. It's the running backs. It's the defense's fault.
Guess what, Coach Nutt: The buck stops with you! All of these issues originate with your coaching. It is the coach's responsibility to see these problems, take ownership of them, and correct them. Be man enough to accept the responsibility for your team instead of blaming the athletes that you are supposed to be teaching and preparing.
Blaming everyone under the sun but himself for Ole Miss' problems shows a lack of character. Houston Nutt seems to understand that there is no "I" in "team," but what he doesn't seem to understand is that there is also no "they" in "team."
If one part of the team has a problem, then Nutt should address that problem in terms of "we" need to improve, not "they"—and certainly not in terms of "the offensive line is dysfunctional." If a family is dysfunctional, the problems originate with the parents who are in charge of the family. At the end of the day, it is the coach's fault if his team is unprepared, unmotivated, or dysfunctional—period.
Bohdi Sanders www.TheWisdomWarrior.com