Sources say NU offers Nutt

Will Nebraska hire Arkansas coach Houston Nutt to head its football program? We may know the answer in the next 72 hours.

Sources tell HI.com that Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt has been offered a similar position at the University of Nebraska. It's been learned that Nebraska officials flew to Fayetteville on Thursday to make that offer to Nutt. Those sources say that Nebraska wants to introduce its coach early in the week, possibly as soon as Sunday.

Those sources say that the offer from Nebraska will total somewhere in the $2 million per season range, counting camps and TV shoe revenue. Nebraska is also promising upgrades to its facilities.

Whether or not Nutt has accepted the offer is unclear, but it is clear that he did not decline. Arkansas officials were in the process of mounting a counter offer Friday night.

I have been a bit confused over all of this until the last 30 minutes. From talking to two different sources -- one in Arkansas and one in Lincoln -- I now understand why this is happening and why Nebraska covets Houston Nutt.

First, there is one coach in the NFL that I know that really respects Houston Nutt and that is Miami's Dave Wannstedt. Those two were on the same staff at Oklahoma State and have remained close through the years. Nutt also is clsoe to Pat Jones from that Miami staff.

Now, what I was trying to figure out the last 24 hours is what made Nebraska want Nutt. Now I know. The two coaches that Nebraska has targeted over the last few weeks are Al Saunders (KC assistant) and Wannstedt. They tried to hire both and were turned down. When Wannstedt was contacted and declined, he was asked to recommend a college coach. He praised Nutt and said he would be able to do two things, travel the state to light the fire in booster organizations and jump start recruiting in Texas where Nebraska long has done well but fallen of late under Frank Solich.

When a coach is fired, the reasons are usually multiple. In Solich, the Cornhuskers had a solid person and a good X and O guy. But a recruiter he wasn't. He wasn't a passionate speaker either. Wannstedt told the Nebraska AD that Nutt was their man as far as those two areas.

The Nebraska folks would like Nutt to keep most of his defensive staff, but would enable him to bring some defensive assistants. I know Nutt is very loyal to Bobby Allen and perhaps a few others on his UA staff. I also know that he would probably like to keep most of his offensive staff. But that is not a sticking point. If Nutt really pushes, he can probably keep all of his defensive staff.

Right now, Nutt is in the cat bird's seat. He has the chance to name his price at Nebraska. I wouldn't have guessed that until I heard that Nebraska wanted Wannstedt. I know what kind of friends and associates Nutt and Wannstadt have been through the years. So now it makes sense to me that Nebraska is going hard for Nutt.

Now, the real key will be to see what Arkansas does to try to keep Nutt. He has some strong allies on the board and they will want Frank Broyles to do what he can to keep Nutt at Arkansas. Is there enough money in the UA coffers to keep Nutt? I don't know. I can't tell right now if the UA will try to match Nebraska's offer or just offer a substantial raise.

I do know that Houston Nutt has a chance to do something for his family that will protect them for a long time. You don't get this chance often. It will be interesting to see what he does. Will he accept Nebraska's offer on the spot? Will he weigh it and see what Arkansas does to counter? And will he see if Nebraska counters the counter?

I'm told that Nebraska would like to have a coach hired by Sunday. If that is the case, I suspect Nebraska officials are going to push hard to get an agreement from Nutt in the next two days. It's going to be fast and furious for Nutt over the next 72 hours.


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