J.R. and Henry: Unasked, Unanswered ... Unrepentant
After listening to Drive Time Sports’ recent hard-hitting interview with University of Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt on 103.7 The Buzz, and wading through the seemingly endless Q&A Nutt had with The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas a week and half ago, we wondered if Nutt was humming a slightly modified version of an old Garth Brooks song. “Sometimes I thank God, for unasked questions.”
During both interviews, Nutt was asked questions concerning a wide range of subjects (72 minutes worth, by the newspaper reporters) but, somewhat amazingly, the interviewers only pecked at the surface of the issues that are engulfing the football program and capturing the interest of Arkansans most everywhere. Some glaring questions were left unasked.
So, since we've been pretending to be sports columnists for nearly a year, what's the harm in pretending to be journalists and coming up with a few questions of our own? So with that background, we offer the following:
Unasked Question No. 1: What did Danny Nutt know and when did he know it?
One of the most remarkable parts of the whole e-mail saga is that, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the contemptible e-mail sent from Nutt family friend Teresa Prewett to freshman quaterback Mitch Mustain was also sent to running backs coach Danny Nutt. (As an aside, it was also sent to around 15 people, including Diana Nutt, Houston’s brother Dickey Nutt's wife, and an e-mail address for the Nutt family, and Reggie Herring’s wife, yet somehow Houston didn't know about it until John White called nearly a month later? That’s unfathomable. Heck, we knew it about it long before then.) So a fair question would be, Coach, what has Danny Nutt told you about his response to the e-mail?
Any coach with any sense, not to mention a modicum of respect for his players, would be outraged and embarrassed that a friend of his sent such a horribly insulting and hurtful message. So what did Danny do about it? Our guess is nothing or we would have heard about it. As a matter of fact, Houston could have avoided this whole scandal if, when he first found out about the e-mail, he demanded that Danny respond immediately scolding Prewett and informing her that Mustain is a member of his team and no one bashes him without answering to his coach. Instead, Nutt did nothing until being called on the carpet by John White a month later. More evidence of Houston's stunning lack of leadership.
Unasked Question No. 2: Has Diana Nutt apologized to Gus Malzahn and Mitch Mustain?
After excerpts from the book "Year of the Dog" came out wherein Mustain was quoted as calling Nutt a “dork” and commenting that Arkansas would have a better chance at getting him to sign on if Nutt wasn't the coach, Gus Malzahn told Mustain that he needed to apologize to his coach and Mustain did so. Shortly thereafter, Nutt held a press conference and announced that Mustain had in fact “apologized to me.”
Now, we find out that Houston's wife, Diana, forwarded an email Prewett sent to D-G sports editor Wally Hall on to a friend with the comment, “I thought you might enjoy reading this. A person we know in Little Rock sent this to Wally Hall, but the Gus and Springdale section are quite funny.” The Hall e-mail included sections devoted to making derogatory comments about Malzahn and the Springdale players, including:
“Gus Malzahn – I am very interested in this man checking out other schools – I am actually begging that he does leave. Do I call him Gus or God? I'm sure you'll give me the correct answer. I'm sure he does deserve some credit for the success of the season, but he and his Springdale Pansies are more of a cancer.”
“Mitch Mustain – does this young man still suck on a pacifier? ... Is he afraid of competition? If he thinks he can't beat out Casey Dick with hard work in the spring and summer, then please go. I despise athletes that are afraid of competition – they are an embarrassment to their sport. He has the potential to be big time, but he has to get his head right, and his mother really needs to invest in duct tape.”
“Other Springdale Players – just please catch the damn ball – it's awful when your drop ratio is greater than your catch ratio. Did you happen to watch the Florida receivers? If so, and if you have one working brain cell, you would know that those two men, Cleveland and Williams, would not have stepped on the field their freshman year at Florida. ... Thank God for Marcus Monk, his work ethic, his team first attitude, and his character. The Springdale pansies should take heed.”
So, has Diana Nutt called Malzahn, Mustain, Williams and Cleveland and apologized? Has she written a letter of apology? If not, why not? You received an apology from a player who called you a dork when he was 17 and not on your team. Don't you think a grown woman should apologize for gleefully spreading derogatory e-mails about your players and your coach?
Unasked Question No. 3: What discussions have you and your family had with Teresa Prewett about Malzahn and the Springdale players?
People don't just forward e-mails to other people like that unless there is some belief that the person receiving it will find the content interesting and approve of it. Why would Prewett think that Danny, Diana, Reggie Herring's wife, etc. would appreciate receiving a copy of hate mail directed to Mustain? The answer must be that she knows those people and knows their feelings about Mustain.
These are just a couple that come to mind when thinking about this. But despite all the craziness, Houston Nutt still doesn’t think he should have done anything differently really. When asked about that by Sportsillustrated.com, Nutt said: “I don't have any regrets about hiring Gus. What I would have done different, if I had known what I know now, I would have sat all the [Springdale] parents down and been real clear about expectations and the difference in level of competition from high school to college. That's the only thing I would have done differently, but I had no idea because I've never experienced anything like this.”
We’ll have to respectfully disagree. It’s hard to imagine a coaching staff handling the situation with Malzahn and the Springdale players worse, and the proof is in the emails and the fact that Malzahn is gone, and Mustain and Williams as well.
With that, thanks for letting us play sports reporter. Now we’ll go back to our normal duties as pretend columnists.
J.R. and Henry blog their sports column on Little Rock whenever the need arises, which with the UA athletic department is often.