The question remains (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday November 28, 2007 12:11PM; Updated: Thursday November 29, 2007 1:43AM
I know the coaching changes will be hard to keep up with in the next two weeks, but what about Houston Nutt and Ole Miss? That sure didn't take long. Was this worked out beforehand? And will Houston help Ole Miss? (He sure couldn't hurt.)
How about that? On Friday, he beats LSU and goes on that rant about Darren McFadden's Heisman candidacy. By Monday, he's the coach at one of Arkansas' divisional rivals.
It seems obvious in hindsight that Nutt had been plotting his exit for some time. It was widely believed incoming AD Jeff Long was going to oust him, and I'm sure Nutt was just looking for the right opportunity to beat him to the punch. What we don't know is how long Ole Miss had its mind made up about axing Ed Orgeron. When it happened last Saturday, I was genuinely taken aback, and was left with the impression that Orgeron was fired simply for blowing the Egg Bowl.
If you connect the dots, however, I think the wheels were set in motion about a week earlier. It didn't seem like that big a deal at the time, but remember that weird story about Ole Miss players stealing hotel alarm clocks? The timing now seems awfully interesting, seeing as it came the same weekend as the first wave of reports about Nutt's imminent departure. There had been tension between Orgeron and Ole Miss' administration for some time, and I wonder if that incident finally put somebody over the edge.
As for the hire itself ... obviously, Ole Miss felt it needed someone with head-coaching experience after its "failed" experiments with career assistants Orgeron and David Cutcliffe. But here's the question: Is Nutt really that big a step up from Cutcliffe? In nine years at Arkansas, Nutt won a couple division titles but for the most part was basically an 8-4-type coach. Now, he's going to a school with less tradition and resources than Arkansas. What would possibly lead anyone to believe he will suddenly start performing at the type of level Ole Miss is so desperately seeking, so much so that they fired their most successful coach in 30 years (Cutcliffe, who had a .603 winning percentage)?
I'll be very interested to see what kind of impact Nutt has, especially since the Rebels' current personnel is hardly suited for Nutt's preferred smash-mouth style of football. (Speaking of which, how ticked would you be right now if you were Ole Miss transfer QB Jevan Snead? "They're bringing in who??!! The guy never throws the ball!") This also puts tremendous pressure on Arkansas to make a good hire, because if nothing else, Nutt might start siphoning recruits from areas like Memphis and in Arkansas that might have previously signed with the Razorbacks. I'm sure the last thing all those Arkansas fans who have been pleading for Nutt's ouster ever anticipated was to see him immediately jump to an opposing sideline.
Am I nuts? After being subjected to Oregon playing without Dennis Dixon, I find myself thinking that -- injury or no -- he should win the Heisman. After all, has any team ever so completely fell apart without its star player?
No, you're not nuts. Anyone who somehow wasn't impressed with just how well Dixon was playing before his injury surely has a greater appreciation now, and if any of my fellow Heisman voters were to decide he was the best player this season, I would have no problem with that.
That said, it was not a slam dunk then, nor is it now, that he was indisputably the best player. Take Tim Tebow away from Florida and I'm fairly certain you'd see the Gators go in the tank as well (quite possibly more so, seeing as there's no Jonathan Stewart in Florida's backfield). But most importantly, voters have to decide whether they're OK with giving the award to a guy who's going to end up missing a full quarter of the season. Personally, I'm not OK with that. As great a player as Dixon was, I don't think it would be fair to reward him at the expense of other perfectly distinguished performers who played a full season.
Stewart, it's time to admit you were right about Chan Gailey. Some of us Georgia Tech fans owe you an apology (though personally I never thought you were wrong about Chan). On behalf of all Tech fans, next time you're in Atlanta, I'd be happy to buy you a Varsity hot dog or two.
Wow -- I think I can count on one hand the number of times I've read the words "you were right" in my inbox. (For instance, I received exactly one e-mail acknowledging my pick of Texas Tech to beat Oklahoma, but about 100 for being so off on USC-Arizona State.) So thanks for that, John.
The Chan Gailey era at Georgia Tech will go down as one of the great mysteries of our time. How could such a proud program stick with a guy for six years, none of which ended with less than five losses? Georgia Tech: You're better than that. You won a national title in 1990. And you actually beat Georgia three straight years under George O'Leary. There's absolutely no reason Georgia Tech shouldn't be doing exactly what Boston College did this year, or Wake Forest last year.
The good news is, new AD Dan Radakovich came from LSU, where he saw first-hand what goes into building a championship program. I believe he'll come up with a more inspired choice than Gailey. Certainly, Gailey's highly regarded defensive coordinator, Jon Tenuta, merits serious consideration. And another former Yellow Jackets coordinator, Randy Edsall, has turned into a pretty darn good head coach at Connecticut. I would imagine he'll be receiving a call.