Houston Nutt: The Ghost of Mississippi

by Sam Houstan
(At large Arky)

Be sure to check out comments below this article

Razorback football has definitely taken a turn for the worse this year. That is, unless not having Houston Nutt on the sideline is a plus, and rooters for the Razorbacks are surely looking for any plus they can find at this point.

Two narrow come from behind wins (from two not on the radar teams) was the start of the schedule,- and Hog fans began to lament, somewhat accredited lamenting I might add, and the ghost of Houston Nutt began to take shape,-in call in radio sports at least.

Then came the losses. 14 to 49 man handling from Alabama, and a 10 to 52 complete butt whipping from Texas. Call in radio participants who favored Nutt finally had the chance to extract their revenge and did without much fan-fare. Nutts ghost became clearer, but not on the sideline- in the roster instead.

The sideline never seemed in disarray, clock management was exceptional, and play calling was creative for the first time in years, but it was clear that this was the least talented team to take the field in recent memory,- the talent was just not there.

Danny Ford came and went through Razorback football in the blink of a proverbial football eye and no one would praise him now, except for maybe Houstan Nutt. Danny Ford had recruited well, and one more year may have made the difference for him, but it appears that Nutt bore the fruit of D-Fords labors with never as much as even a 'thank you'. Good ol' boys are that way.

Houstan Nutt exceeded most expectations for 'a rebuilding year', Razorback football confidence was at an all time high, and the rest is history.

Today the Hogs got it taken to them 7 to 38 by a hungry Florida Gator team, the same team that Razorbacks former leader and new Ole Miss coach Houstan Nutt surprised the previous week 31 to 30.

Houston Nutt's ghost became more vivid as
Ole Miss was beaten today 31 to 24 by South Carolina in what had to be deemed by Mississippi fans as somewhat of an upset after last weeks strong showing against the Gators. The old 'win one you shouldn't,- lose one you shouldn't'- the roller coaster ride that we as Razorbacks became accustomed to over the last few years showed itself with vengeance as the ghost reared its ugly head in Oxford.

The Razorbacks however, seemed to have improved against Florida,- the defense was more aggressive with more critical stops, but allowing the long ball on more than one occasion. The offense does well between the twenties but can kill a drive anywhere on the field with one bad play, and struggles tempestiously to finish a drive on a positive note. One important thing to note is that Casey Dick (Ark QB) is number 3 in SEC passing yards (969 yds-4 INT- 14 sacks prior to today).

Who would have guessed that last year? But the bottom line is,- no one expected Arkansas to beat Florida today. In fact, most were surprised we played with them as well as we did, and that may say something about the true strength of the Gators.

Now the moral of the story - There is going to be a lot of bad vibes for a few years to come among Ole Miss and the Razorbacks after the 'golden handcuffs' fiasco. Paying Nutt to leave, leaving before a bowl game, and allowing him to go to a conference team are the things that true rivalries are made of, and both teams need that excitement at this time.

The Razorbacks have nothing better to root for than Houston Nutt losing the game he should win and waiting for the Razor-holy-good-ol-boy-ghost to fade into a Mississippi memory.

Until then, Petrino has a Mulligan.

Sam Houstan
A Casual Observer

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Aug 22, 2009
How could I disagree? Alabama, Petrino, decade's BEST
by: hogNga

A little late with this 8/09 comment to your piece; but felt compelled.

Overall very informative. Your Danny Ford reference is timely, inasmuch as I just caught a classic game on the tube yesterday: Ford's last second win and Hog's first over the Tide in '95 I believe. I'm pretty up on UA history, but it being our first win over them caught me a little off-guard ... even though I had not long ago analyzed the AR-AL series since joining the SEC. Doing so revealed that since this first win in '95, we've played them as even as any SEC series around; to the extent of wondering what it'll take for the series to become consensually respected by BOTH combatants. I know rivalries take years of bitter conflict to materialize, but those fans down there are kings of thumbing their collective noses at any new realities.

To me, there couldn't be a more natural rival in the league. Similar colors, virtually the same "A", traditional southern roots, misplaced perceptions of hicks and hillbillies, Arkie Bear Bryant to AL instead of AR because of Pearl Harbor, great traditions, and strong fan bases. All of it framing out the aforementioned competitive series. Not to mention the fact the two teams have been in a virtual dead-heat this entire decade in # of SEC game wins. Until the Nutt calamity, and somewhat Saban's arrival, Hogs were one up on Tide at season's end '06, and seemed to me to have the momentum to maintain its #6 spot AND positioning in the Top Half of the conference for the decade. Now we're a couple back in this strangely ignored "race" that will only be settled this coming season, the 10th and last of the decade. Frankly, I want this more than anything else for '09, but it'll take an AL letdown to even make it feasible; the odds of which are less remote than AR having a 10-2 season even.

...which, while improbable, wouldn't surprise me at all. So, it's no secret now: I'm a big believer in Petrino's abilities, and have been since his Louisville days. The follies in between are no more surprising AND far less distasteful to me than a virtual laundry list of
dumbass behavior that followed Nutt around till his final day - and worse, beyond. Residing in Atlanta - I'm acutely aware of both sides of the ATL-Petrino-ARK affair; and nothing Petrino did would differ from what any of the rest of us would be force to do under such unreasonably adverse conditions; with complete and total blame for this and all the other fiascoes that befell the Falcons back then resting squarely on the shoulders of Authority Blank - team owner.

Excuse my getting side-tracked; but what I was leading up to is how you managed to write the whole piece without any hint of your stand on Petrino being our coach. That's cool really; but so different from my enthusiasm level, as to be the main motive for responding. Not really expecting any reply; only hoping to see more from you in the future.


Aug 23, 2009
by: Anonymous

Check out the graphic that goes with this comment at 2009 Arkansas Razorbacks Football.

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