Commentary: What's Up with Nutt?

Here's a take from HI.com Publisher Clay Henry on the national publicity Houston Nutt received this week on the Notre Dame search for a new football coach. It was a good thing for the future of Arkansas football.

First, Notre Dame isn't going to pay their coach twice what Houston Nutt is making at Arkansas, and that would be the only reason to be interested in that job anyway. It's not that great of a job anymore.

So, there you have it, it was not going to be a situation that was better anyway. That's why nothing came of it in the first place. Notre Dame doesn't ever think it has to pay the really high prices because they have too much arrogance. Maybe they are going to change, but I doubt it.

Second, Houston Nutt has every right to listen to anyone that wants to talk to him. I can remember that Frank Broyles always listened when he was the Arkansas coach. He would always say, "Yeah, I'll listen." And, then what he usually did was try to lobby for one of his assistants to get the job. And, then he'd make sure to tell his AD (when he had one, the President when he didn't), that he'd been contacted by a school. Always, he told OH, and that appeared in his column. Sometimes it happened before that news had reached his boss, sometimes it happened afterwards, but it always made print. And, at some point, he would issue a statement through the sports information department that he "has the only job he's ever wanted." And, everyone in Arkansas would say, "Yes, we love him!" But, he listened.

Third, when your name is linked to interest from another school on the national scene (ESPN), it can never hurt recruiting. It's another source of dialogue, a dialogue that Houston gets the final say to the recruits like he did this week. He used it to his advantage. And, it did help. This has been a good week for Houston Nutt. He's strengthened his recruiting position. He has been named coach of the year by most sources, and had it on ESPN for the better part of 24 hours that he is a hot commodity in the coaching world right now. He is a hot coach with a rising team. He's got young, talented quarterbacks and good coaches, the best of combinations

The good news is that he is our coach, and from what I saw at practice Thursday, he is doing a great job of coaching. He coached the wide receivers yesterday with George Pugh on the road to recruit. You should have seen the eyes of those players as he worked them. They were busting their butts trying to please him. And, when they did something good, his eyes lit up like no other Arkansas coach I've ever seen. Players respond to encouragement and praise. That's the way of the modern player. Our wide receivers were working so hard yesterday. And, our defensive backs were trying to do something against the wide receivers to catch the eyes of the head coach, too.

No, I don't worry about the events of this week. I am thankful for them. And, it's going to be a fun ride as we continue to improve with more good players on the way to Fayetteville.

And, if and when someone does come and get Houston Nutt, we've got the insurance to hire a great coach, our expanded stadium. Just as Bud Walton Arena is the insurance to hire the next basketball coach, our football stadium has changed the dynamics of hiring a new football coach. We won't have to go to Boise, even if they have a great coach, to find him. The situation has changed in dramatic fashion. And, we have Houston Nutt to thank for that. That trip to the Citrus Bowl in his first season allowed Frank to get on with the job of expanding the stadium. So, we are back to Houston Nutt. We do owe him quite a bit.

Yep, we have a good situation. The only bad part is that Frank Broyles is going to have to keep finding a little more money for Houston each year. And, that's not bad at all.


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