One of the names that has come a bit out of left field in the last day is that of current Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt. Nutt's interest in the job brings about a lot of skepticism as his name seems to float around in connection with nearly every job, every offseason, only to see a healthy pay raise at his current position. Is Nutt the type of guy we want at Kansas?
No doubt Houston Nutt is a talented coach. His players reportedly ove to play for him, he recruits well and he's been successful. The question becomes, is he arriving in Lawrence with one foot in the door and the other already on the way out? Of course, there is always the possibility that Nutt's interest in the program isn't even factual in nature as the Ole Miss AD has already tried to squash the rumors. Of course this is the same AD that he reportedly does not get along with so I'm not sure he would be the most reliable source on this thing either.
Before we consider Nutt coming, going or just getting a pay bump at with the Rebels, let's get to know a candidate a little better.
Houston Nutt was born in the Natural State, Arkansas in 1957. His family has been in and around major college athletics in one way or another from the get go. Nutt's own college career began at Arkansas where he was recruited by the famed Frank Broyles prior to 1976. When Broyles retired however, Lou Holtz stepped in to the position and replaced a pro style offense with a running offense. Nutt was no longer a fit and transferred to Oklahoma State.
After graduating from Oklahoma State Nutt immediately joined the staff as a Graduate Assistant under then coach Jimmy Johnson. A quick jump back to Arkansas under Lou Holtz and a season later Nutt was back in the black and orange as the receivers and quarterback coach for the Cowboys in Stillwater. In 1989 Nutt was promoted to offensive coordinator for the Cowboys. A season later, you guessed it...back to Arkansas as an assistant where he quickly gained attention as a top recruiter.
1993 brought about Houston Nutt's first opportunity at a head job as Murray State hired Nutt. In his third season at Murray State Nutt led the team to an 11-1 record and 8-0 conference record earning himself the Division 1-AA coach of the year award. In 1996 Nutt was equally successful putting together an 11-2 mark before moving on to the next job this time with Boise State.
Nutt spent just one season with the Boise State Broncos who had just made the jump from division 1-AA to 1-A. A 4-7 finish and a win over rival Idaho was apparently all Nutt needed to accomplish as he was on his way out the door in 1997.
Arkansas came calling again in 1997 and Nutt once again answered the phone. 10 seasons with the Razorbacks was by far his longest stretch at any institution and Nutt was pretty successful during that time. In his first full season Nutt led his Razorback squad to a first place finish in the SEC West, a feat he would repeat twice more times during his tenure. An overall record of 75-48 in his time at Arkansas was good enough to put Nutt at 2nd in all time wins at the university. Also impressive in his tenure was the 52-48 record in the tough SEC conference.
Following the 2007 season Nutt and perhaps Arkansas decided it was time for a change. A shift to fellow SEC conference school Ole Miss was in the cards. Nutt has been fairly successful in two seasons with the Rebels going 9-4 a year ago, but despite and 8-4 record this year the Rebels were expecting a little more.
So there you have it. The Houston Nutt story in as quick a summary as I can manage. Just to recap, it goes something like this: Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Murray State, Boise State, Arkansas, Ole Miss. So I'm sensing a pattern here and if I'm Kansas...I can't say for certain I want to be part of it.
Still the fact remains this would be a pretty good hire from a perception standpoint for Big Lew as he would have successfully "stolen" a coach from the BIG BAD SEC and lured him to Kansas. Coach/AD spats aside this would be a big step for a Kansas program that 10 years ago would have likely been sniffing from a 1-AA coaching ranks.
Hopefully Lew weighs his options carefully on this one. A high risk, high reward type person might be inclined to make just such a move.