Can Houston Nutt Avoid Cracking Under Pressure of Pre-Season Expectations?

Richard CotnerContributor IJuly 26, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt celebrates after a game against the University of Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 27, 2008 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

I just can't think about Houston Nutt without thinking of an old episode of the Andy Griffith Show.

The episode that comes to mind is the one in which Barney's cousin Virgil comes to Mayberry and just can't seem to do anything right while people are watching. When left alone, Virgil is a master craftsman.

The same seems to be true for the head football coach of the Ole Miss Rebels.

Coach Nutt has always performed better when Andy and Barney, or you and I for that matter, aren't looking over his shoulder. He seems to fit better into the coach 'em up role than the keep 'em on top role.

In '07, expectations were high. Those initial expectations dropped when coach Nutt's No. 21 ranked Razorbacks encountered an early loss against SEC Western Division rival Alabama and a completely unexpected loss to the Kentucky Wildcats.

After three-straight SEC losses knocked Arkansas out of contention for the Western Division title and the Razorbacks had nothing left to lose, Nutt somehow managed to knock off the soon-to-be National Champion LSU in a stunning 50-48 three overtime win.

Three days after the win, Coach Nutt resigned as the Arkansas coach.

The next day he was in Oxford, MS. where expectations were never high... until now.

What is Virgil (Nutt) going to do now that the entire country is watching him?

Some are expecting the little flashes of greatness they have witnessed throughout the coach's career to finally come together in a sort of " I told you he could do it" season.

Others are expecting nothing more than the same old "fold under the pressure" performance they have seen so many times before.

Only time will tell if this otherwise great coach can finally keep it all together and take advantage of the golden opportunity that is before him.

The one thing that is for sure...

We will all be watching.


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