by Max Brantley
[image-1]He's done. Houston Nutt won't return in 2008 as the Razorback football coach, Channel 40/29 is reporting. I think they're right.
(And, read on. I can envision a scenario in which he doesn't complete 2007.)
However, the university has issued this statement through Tysen Kendig, associate vice chancellor for university relations:
"It seems some media outlets chose to falsely legitimize baseless rumors with unknown details from unnamed sources without first seeking the benefit of fact from the university.
"The fact is, there has been no determination regarding the status of Houston Nutt, nor would there be until the normal review process for coaches takes place after the season. The chancellor affirmed this very clearly, on the record, some 24 hours earlier, and nothing has changed in regard to the coach's status of the Razorback football team since that time. Reports to the contrary are misleading and irresponsible."
Nothing happened publicly at the UA Board of Trustees meeting Friday either. But there was an executive session attended by Chancellor John White. The chances are good that football was discussed, but trustees declined to answer questions afterward.
I'll remind you, though, what a source of mine told me early in the year, shortly before the Frank Broyles retirement story broke, "By the end of 2007, neither Broyles nor Nutt nor Stan Heath will be working at the University of Arkansas." At least not in the positions they then held. Broyles, as you know, will continue as a UA goodwill ambassador after his retirement Dec. 31.
Whatever the specifics, it's clearly time for a locker room "Win one for the Nutter" speech. Or two of them. One for Miss. State and one for LSU.
UPDATE: Interesting quote from J. Frank on Channel 4:
"People don't care to see you play, they come to see you win. And if you don't win you're in trouble," explains Frank Broyles about the challenge any head coach faces.
When asked if Nutt's job is on the line this was Broyles' response, " It wouldn't be if I'm the athletic director. If he wanted to leave I'd say that's fine with the negativity, I don't know, I don't know."
That sounds a lot like a non-confirmation confirmation, particularly when you read Jim Harris' report on speculation that Nutt has job offers dangling.
Indeed, I suspect the early stage of the replacement search is underway. And, while we don't know the specifics of Houston Nutt's departure, I'm thinking that it might be sooner rather than later if the Hogs lose to Mississippi State tomorrow. But, no, Frank Broyles wouldn't step in to coach the final game against LSU, as one blog wag suggested (even if the Nutt offense is reminsicent of the Broyles era.)
Why, you ask, would the UA oust Nutt after a loss? To jumpstart the replacement process and get an edge on other schools also searching.
Some say if Nutt hadn't run off an all-American quarterback or otherwise had a ready qb -- and if he could have kept his cell phone in his pants -- it might not have come to this.
PS: Yes, football was discussed during the board's executive session.
And Brummett reviews the UA's (mis)handling of the Mustain e-mail affair.
And Harry King runs the numbers on the cost of sending Houston Nutt away.