Dressed For Success

FAYETTEVILLE -- One of Arkansas coach Houston Nutt's favorite stories about Louisiana-Monroe coach Charlie Weatherbie involves a tuxedo.

Nutt laughed Sunday afternoon after remembering a recruiting trip with Weatherbie in the early 1990s, when both were assistants on former Arkansas coach Jack Crowe's staff. Nutt said he was scheduled to pick up Weatherbie in Tulsa and make an in-home visit, but felt a little underdressed when he saw the quarterbacks coach.

That's because Weatherbie was wearing a tuxedo.

He said he was trying to make an impression.

"I do some off-the-wall things like that sometimes," said Weatherbie, who doesn't remember the tuxedo incident but said it was possible.

The second-year Louisiana-Monroe coach promises he won't be dressed in formal wear Saturday night, when he and Nutt cross paths once again in War Memorial Stadium. Weatherbie and Nutt have known each other since the 1970s and will shake hands in Little Rock as opposing coaches for the first time in their careers.

Nutt remembers meeting Weatherbie in the mid-1970s when the Little Rock Central High recruit was hosted by Oklahoma State's starting quarterback on a recruiting visit. Weatherbie said he coached Nutt, then a scout-team quarterback, a couple years later when he worked as a Cowboys' graduate assistant.

Weatherbie was a three-year starter at Oklahoma State from 1974-76 and was a graduate assistant in 1977 and 1978. Nutt transferred from Arkansas after the 1977 season, redshirted in 1978 and played the next two seasons.

"(Weatherbie) was going to be the senior quarterback when I was (being recruited)," Nutt said. "I thought he was a very good athlete. I didn't know him that well when I transferred over to Oklahoma State. I'd see him around because he was working on getting to the Canadian Football League (in 1979 and 1980) and all that.

"I got to know him better those last couple years when he was around in the offseason. We finally hooked up together here at Arkansas (in 1990)."

Nutt believes Weatherbie was partially responsible for that.

He said the newly hired quarterbacks coach and Arkansas director of football operations Louis Campbell, who was then an assistant, recommended Nutt. He was hired as wide receivers coach and the two worked closely for two years.

Nutt said he and Weatherbie had similar philosophies because both were former quarterbacks that liked to throw the ball. But Weatherbie was influenced by the option-oriented Air Force offense he worked in as an assistant from 1984-89.

"We'd always have a lot of talks about how to attack different defenses and things like that," Nutt said. "We had a lot of similarities, but he had a little more of the option (background). We had a close relationship. We were working on the same side of the ball and our wives knew each other. We always had a great relationship."

Weatherbie was named Utah State's head coach after the 1991 season and led the Aggies to their first-ever bowl win in 1993. He was hired to revive Navy's program in 1994 and led the Midshipmen to a 9-3 record and Aloha Bowl bid in 1996. But he lost 17 of his last 18 games before being fired in 2001.

Now he's trying to breathe life into the Louisiana-Monroe program with a wide-open offense that features one- or no-back sets. The Indians finished 1-11 in his first season and lost their 2004 opener at Auburn (31-0).

And he knows the competitive Nutt will be tough to out-coach Saturday night.

"He was a great competitor," Weatherbie said. "We used to play basketball together all the time over in the Coleman Center (in Stillwater, Okla.) over there when I was a student and a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State. He and his brothers, they'd come over there and try to rule the floor.

"The same thing with him as a coach. He's a very strong competitor. Just really is a winner. A guy that does a great job of leading. He's a real leader."

But Nutt and Weatherbie said their relationship remains solid even though they've gone in different directions. Weatherbie owns a home in Destin, Fla., and bumps into Nutt and his family once or twice a year.

That will change Saturday night when they're reunited in War Memorial Stadium.

"I run into him every once in awhile and see him at the national coaches convention all the time," Weatherbie said. "He and his family have been great friends of ours."

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