J.R. and Henry: Nutt says it best when he says nothing at all
Do you remember country singer Keith Whitley’s hit song “When You Say Nothing At All?” Maybe you've heard Alison Krauss' cover of it, or heard it on "Notting Hill." It spea
In front of the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Tuesday at P.A.R.K., Keith Jackson’s blessing of a facility, Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt spoke about the state of the program. Fifteen minutes into Nutt’s speech, and after identifying his theme, we thought of that song.
It quickly became clear that Nutt’s intention on Tuesday was to come into the room, hype up the crowd with talk of desire and a hunger to win, and leave without having to address any critical issue facing the program, including the big one – who’s in charge of the offense?
Instead of getting to the heart of this issue (he did mention his rationale behind using green jerseys though), Nutt embarked on an Otis Kirk-like journey down the depth chart. Within moments, fifth and sixth string players were getting love from the head coach that would’ve made Rudy jealous.
Was this what we paid for? Not really. The barbecue was good.
But interspersed between the “specials” and “working hards” and “efforts” were some real gems. And for those of you unfamiliar with Nutt’s favorite phrases, we proudly offer the Houston to English translation of some of the high points of his speech.
HDN: “We’ve had two rough years. Six straight years I didn’t hear much from you. Everything was pretty good.”
Translation: “Love me the way you loved me in 1998 and 1999. After all, I did take the Hogs to two New Year’s Day bowls and even beat Texas. If that ain’t enough to achieve coaching immortality, what is?”
HDN: “I know everybody wants to see the ball slung all over the field, and everybody can stand up and cheer. As former quarterback, I love to throw the football, and we're going to get better."
Translation: “I was sort of a big deal at Little Rock Central. Trust me.”
HDNn: “John [McDonnell], I rub on him, touch him, listen to him. Here’s a man with 42 national championships. Forty-two! I just want one.”
Translation: “Maybe if I mention that McDonnell’s won a bunch of national championships, fans will forget that the football team sucks.”
HDN: “I’ve never seen a group so hungry who worked so hard, and that’s because they want to win for you.”
Translation: “Let’s see, I’ve already talked about being special and bouncing around. I’ll go with hungry this time.”
HDN: “When he says get there with a few of his own adjectives, it can be intimidating, especially the first time around. Reggie is getting better, and our kids have learned he isn’t going to beat them up.”
Translation: “I’m scared of Reggie.”
HDN: “It was tough . . . embarrassing. There’s no other way to say it. We do owe them. We owe them a big one.”
Translation: “If we lose by less than 53 to USC, it’s a moral victory.”
HDN: “Because of Matt Jones, we were labeled an option team” and thus weren’t able to recruit quality receivers.
Translation: “It’s not my fault we can’t recruit, it’s that elusive first round draft pick’s fault. Oops, did I forget to mention the ‘cloud?’”
HDN: “Can we turn the cameras off?”
Translation: “I’m about to say something that isn’t really important or interesting, but since I asked for the cameras to be turned off, you’ll think you’re getting some inside scoop.”
HDN: “We are a Kenoy Kennedy away.”
Translation: “Just wait until next year.”
HDN: "I was told by Broyles and Bill Gray not to say nothing."
Translation: “I’ve had back to back losing seasons and have no authority whatsoever.”
HDN: “Back in the days of the Southwest Conference, when we had starting lines from Little Rock we won titles.”
Translation: “Don’t forget that I was sort of a big deal at Central.”
HDN: “We want to get back to a bowl . . . and we’re going to do it.”
Translation: “If I can get the Hogs to Shreveport, you should be thrilled. They have casinos.”
Nutt’s magic act may have just worked though. Most people present probably walked away with a renewed sense of enthusiasm what with all the action verbs.
And that was Nutt’s mission. Like a seasoned politician, he spoke for 45 minutes and managed to avoid having to say anything that matters.
But the players are hungry and they want to win. So do the coaches. They want to get back to a bowl game “nine times” more than the fans. Nine times! We feel better, coach. We were afraid it was only eight.
J.R. and Henry blog this column at Little Rocking every Wednesday and Saturday.