Columns » John Brummett

Why Nutt must go

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Have you grown weary waiting for the typewriter jocks to lay out precisely why Houston Nutt ought to be run plumb out of the state? Let me help.

My credentials? I'm as good a football player as Wally Hall.

1. This Nutt character makes everything about himself rather than his players. Bear Bryant and Lou Holtz famously said that players win games and coaches lose them. This Nutt dude gets that turned bass ackward.

He wins and he sings. He wins and he crows that he called good plays. He loses and he says the offensive line didn't hold the blocks and that the quarterback was just OK. He says his play-calling was fine if only one of those all-world runners had found a seam.

He smugly declares that he has until 2012. His players have less time than that.

His ego is so thoroughly invested that he resents the imposition of an offensive coordinator who might get credit. His ego is so thoroughly invested that he and his tacky friends mistreat and run off the most highly acclaimed quarterback recruit in the country.

Whenever ESPN comes to town, this Nutt character spends the week propagandizing the pliable announcers so that they'll spin things his way, rather than the players' or the fans' or the program's.

Razorback football is for the kids who play it and the nuts, not Nutts, who invest financially and emotionally in it.

Whether his players won Saturday at Ole Miss is unknowable at this writing. But this much is knowable: If they did win, he will have spread those peacock feathers and commenced the strut.

2. He coaches from timidity and fear. He's so afraid of a quarterback sack that, over the years, he's often sent out only one or two receivers and kept everybody else in to block. He puts massive offensive tackles at tight end.

His stated notion of a punt returner is someone who simply catches the ball.

In Arkansas' glory days, the Razorbacks were known for stealing games with punt returns for touchdowns. Anybody ever heard of Ken Hatfield? In those days, they coached with a grander vision than fielding the punt without fumbling it. They talked about forming a return wall. They beat top-ranked Texas by 14-to-13 in Austin in 1964 on a Hatfield punt return for a touchdown.

Now we aim only to catch it. And guess what? The guy we had back there because he could catch it? He only dropped two against Auburn.

It's well-known that you bring the things you fear back on yourself. If your essence is "please, don't drop it," then he's going to drop it for sure - that being the attitude his coach has instilled.

(Note: If they ran back a punt for a touchdown at Ole Miss, it was pure luck.)

3. This Nutt character is a whining excuse-maker, and not only for himself. His players got back-to-back personal fouls against Auburn. The next day he complained about the calls on his television show. On one, Auburn's quarterback got his face bloodied by an obviously illegal blow to the head. On the other, an Auburn runner got slung down a good five yards out of bounds.

4. This Nutt character has had 10 years, which is plenty of time to benefit from the facilities upgrades, the academic gravy-trains and the lifting of probationary clouds. That is to say he's out of excuses.

All of that said, it may well be that he is approximately as good as other garden-variety college football coaches. I suspect he's not precipitously worse than most of the others.

Even so, it's time we went out to the garden and picked us another one. This one's ego trip has become a tiresome journey.

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