The Razorback fan website Hogville.net recently conducted a poll of its membership on Houston Nutt's approval rating. It was a simple poll, do you approve of the job Nutt's doing as coach, or do you disapprove? The poll was set up for one vote only per member, to try to make it as scientific as possible.
A total of 550 votes were cast over a week's period earlier this month, and Nutt's approval rating topped out at 35 percent, while 65 percent disapproved of his job efforts. There was no inbetween, or "don't know" or "don't care," just an "approve" or "disapprove."
Now, it is worth pointing out, Hogville.net is a free membership board. The thought, though not proven, among the pay boards HawgsIllustrated and Rivals is that a free board tends to draw more malcontents about the Razorback program, a free boards in general seem to have more negative content, while the pay boards tend to run the malcontents off (i.e., a poll taken on the pay boards might show Nutt with a high percentage of approval, perhaps). The age range at Hogville.net seems to cover teens to 60s, but with a majority of members under 35. There is a small number of women who post on the board as well. Another thought goes that the majority of older Arkansans who don't venture to the Internet sites and read all the vitriolic postings about the coach would probably approve of Nutt's job rather than disapprove. A large number of women might favor Nutt's job. We're just offering these factors as to whether the poll should be considered an accurate barometer of fan feeling. What we don't think it is, however, is a polling comparable to asking a Democratic party meeting to vote on their approval of Bush's job. We don't think it could possibly be as one-sided.
But here's some food for thought on Houston Nutt's current popularity. In 1998, when Nutt took the state by storm in his first year as coach, leading the Hogs to an 8-0 start, letting fans into the lockerroom via his TV show, leading the team to an eventual 9-3 record and the Citrus Bowl, the TV ratings for his Sunday afternoon show were through the roof. A little birdy has told us that in the recent seasons (which record-wise haven't been good), the show ratings are abysmal. Meanwhile, it's shows that are more critical of Nutt, or that offer objective viewpoints about the Hogs, such as KATV's "SportsWeek," that are drawing the large ratings these days.
Of couse, all Nutt has to do to turn his sagging popularity around is win, baby.