Houston Nutt turned down Nebraska's offer early Friday evening, then met Saturday morning with the Arkansas media along with athletic director Frank Broyles to announce that he would continue as Arkansas' head football coach.
"The bottom line is the Nebraska plane was there and I couldn't take my family to get on it," Nutt said. "My heart is here. Arkansas is a special place. I love this helmet."
Arkansas kept Nutt despite a huge difference in money between the Cornhusker offer and what he will make at Arkansas. However, he will get a substantial raise. He made just under $1 million last year at Arkansas counting deferred money that funds an annuity. He'll get a bump in the neighborhood of $1.5 million after some adjustments were made on his old Arkansas contract.
Nutt keeps the same contract, but it has been rolled over early so that he now has 7 years remaining. The numbers have been changed so that the total package is close to $1.5 million. He also gets a new annuity. If he stays for seven more years, he gets $3 million payout from the annuity. One will vest before then, but he'll have $3 million if he stays for the length of his current contract.
As far as assistants, Nutt will have to reward them through his camps. There are no raises. He said all assistant coaching salaries are frozen. If I understood him correctly, he will take care of assistants thru summer camps. He said, "I'll take care of them." That was confirmed through Frank Broyles, too.
There were no additional titles given because Nutt did not ask for them. He has an understanding that he can be athletic director if he wants, but insisted that was not necessary. He prefers to have Frank Broyles handle that job as long as he wants.
"He doesn't want any more duties," Broyles said. "He's asked me to do the budget. I've asked if he wants to do it and he never does. He can have as much control as he wants. I have never done anything without his approval. He has the same arrangement that I had with John Barnhill. It's all his. He is in total control of the football operation.
"Houston has as much control over football as any coach in America."
Broyles said the Nebraska package was $25 million. Specifically, with incentives, it was $2.5 million for 10 years. "That's $25 million," Broyles said. "That is my understanding. Nebraska is calling and saying there was no offer and they are back tracking on all of it, but I know what it was (through agent Jimmy Sexton). Maybe the official offer (from the chancellor) had not been made, but he had their offer and I know it. I understand why they want to back track a little. That's normal. The plane was here."
Nutt said he had much respect for Nebraska and AD Steve Pederson, and would not discuss the NU offer.
"I won't get into that," he said. "There will be a lot of rumors and I'll stay away from that out of respect for Steve. I was very flattered by the offer they presented. The bottom line is that I wanted to be here. I've poured my heart into the program. The work is not finished."
Broyles said Jim Lindsey gave the Arkansas cause a big boost with his pitch to Nutt in the Hogs' behalf both Thursday and Friday.
"Jim did it," Broyles said. "He went to Houston and he listened to Jim. We owe a lot to Jim. He's very close to Jim."
Nutt said his relationship with Lindsey, a UA board of trustee member, goes back to his playing days at Arkansas.
"I worked for Mr. Lindsey on a construction crew, pouring concrete," Nutt said. "He's a very good friend. We talked to each other as friends. He is not just a board member but a very good friend. It was good to talk to a friend in this. He came to me and talked about security here. He came to me with what Coach Broyles were going to offer as a team and did it very well."
Broyles said the Arkansas contract extension was in place before Nebraska came calling.
"It wasn't done because we expected (to hear from Nebraska)," Broyles said. "We did it because he deserved it and we knew someone would be coming after him with what he had done. We made adjustments in his current contract. He has a contract in place."
UA attorney Scott Varady is in the process of fine tuning that contract further and will be negotiating with Memphis agent Jimmy Sexton.
"We have to add some additional language, but it can be done in a few weeks, probably," Varady said. "I have spoken to Jimmy a little. We'll be talking some more."
Nutt confirmed he would retain Sexton to handle further negotiations.
"Probably, that's what I'll do," Nutt said.
Nutt said he knew that Arkansas would have to up Nutt's contract even before the bowl victory over Missouri earlier this week.
"John Barnhill always told me that you can never pay a good coach enough and a bad one is always paid too much," Broyles said. "We had to do more for Houston and we did.
"This is a day of celebration. Houston is staying. He is the best for this job more than any coach in America. This is a great day for me as the athletic director.
"Houston has taken our program to a level that our fans expect to win the big games. There is a big difference in expectations. The revenue has increased, too. When he came here we had $6 million in ticket sales. now we are at $15 million in football ticket sales. That puts us even with most programs in the SEC as far as funding of all of our programs.
"Houston sells our university all the time. He promotes our school. The entire school has benefitted and our leadership for our young people in this state is wonderful. This has been a long two days and now we have a big celebration. It's like winning a seven overtime game and the celebration is going to be even bigger."
Nutt said it was a "very tough two days, tougher than an overtime game." He said there were probably two times that he might have been leaning to the switch.
"I think the night of the first, Steve (Pederson) probably thought he had me," Nutt said. "But it was kinda like a new date -- strike that, I probably shouldn't say that."
Nutt used the media briefing as a platform to speak to recruits.
"There are three that are out there in our state that I'm coming to get," Nutt said. "Get ready. We are coming to get you."
Fred Bledsoe, Marc Winston and Peyton Hillis are the big three Arkansas high school seniors that the Hogs covet the most. Bledsoe and Winston remain uncommitted.
Nutt said the reassurances from Arkansas officials that they are committed to his program are huge.
"We are losing a lot, 25 seniors and some juniors, too, if what I'm hearing is correct," Nutt said. "We may slip a little, but Coach Broyles assured me that the Arkansas people understand and are smart football people. We are going to be coming back. We may have to play some freshmen this year, but we are coming back."
Nutt said the Hogs are on the verge of a fantastic recruiting year and the courtship with Nebraska should send a strong message that others view the Arkansas staff as outstanding.
"This should catapult us to our greatest year," Nutt said. "We are going to have a great recruiting year. This could be our finest year. In three years, we'll look back and see that this was a class as good as anyone had in the country.
This will help that and the bowl win is helping. I'm so proud of the way our team came together to fight for that victory as one unit. That was big. Bowl wins are tough to get."
Broyles said he would do everything possible to provide Nutt with the budget and tools to win at the highest level.
"We are getting started on the new weight room any day now," Broyles said. "That's the final piece to the facilities. I had hoped it would be under construction now, but we rebid it to lower the costs just a little. We are ready to move now and you will see that work soon."
Nutt stays with Hogs
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