Turn over your car keys. That was Houston Nutt's message to the entire football team at their first meeting of the spring semester Monday afternoon.
"They can get them back when they show me their car registration, proof of insurance and proper car tags," Nutt said in a media briefing just minutes before he was scheduled to meet with the Arkansas football team.
"I've studied what's been going on, and a lot of our problems are with automobiles. I think it's a situation that we can take care of by looking at what they have ... and if they have it all, they get their keys back.
"A great example was today with Fred Talley. He comes in and says, I'm going in to pay my fines. He needs a ride because we asked him to leave his car at home this semester. As it turned out, he had some fines he didn't know about because of some traffic tickets. They get a ticket, and then forget about it.
"We are also requiring all of our players to report traffic tickets ... speeding, parking ... to Louis Campbell. Then we see what the court date is and make sure they make it."
Nutt said he would also deliver a "tough" speech on second chances to his squad.
"I think some of them think that they get a freebie, another chance," Nutt said. "The second chances may be over. We won't to be consistent with our players. That's the way I do with my children, and these players are part of my family ... but enough is enough. I'm tired of it and there may not be any more second chances."
Nutt said he'd prefer to administer the kind of discipline he was raised with by his parents.
"The first thing, I got the belt," Nutt said. "That's what we use at my home right now. The belt. And, the second thing that happened to me and Danny, we lost the car keys ... but we got the belt first. I can't use the belt, but I can take the keys. Of course, they get the keys back if they have all the paperwork."
Nutt emphasized that he thinks that "about 95 percent of our team is doing things the right way. That's what I want to hit when I meet with the guys. They are going to class. We have 43 guys with a 3.0 from the last semester. That's unheard of for a fall semester with a football team. But, I've been studying how to change what's happening with the over 5 percent. What I see is a pattern ... a lot of it is because of a lack of detail to registrations, insurance, with automobiles. I think we can fix that."
Nutt said it is the next step after what the NCAA requires on the first day of school.
"The NCAA asks them to fill out paperwork on who owns the car and we also ask them to show us a driver's license," Nutt said. "We are going to ask for a little more information, and require some things to drive a car while they are with us.
"Some of these kids don't have a momma or daddy that is going to check these things, or knows how to check them. We are going to make sure it gets checked. When they are at home, maybe they live in an area where they aren't going to get pulled over for expired tags. We are in a university town, with campus security that does its job. They will get caught here, and then it shows up in the newspaper. I don't want to read any more about them in the newspaper.
"I'm frustrated, because you assume that it's done. I bet we find out we have some more where it's not done. We can get that stopped before it shows up in the newspaper.
"We have to do these because when these things happen, it falls into a pattern and affects your reputation. I'm tired of it. I think we can solve a major problem right here.
"I think this started when I was talking with Danny (Nutt) this weekend. We were thinking of what we can do. Danny said, 'Just take away all the keys of the running backs. They aren't going to drive.' That was what he was familiar with in our background at home when you had a problem. I thought, we can take it a step further and check the entire team.
"I will also talk to them really hard today. I wish you (media) guys could be in there to hear it, but you can't. Some assume I don't talk hard to them. I do that, but they aren't with me all the time. But, they are going to hear it today.
"I just want to make a difference in the lives of these young men. I will make a real, real hard stand. This staff has bent over backwards for them, and now we are being criticized. I will tell them that we believe in them. It's so easy to say, you made a mistake and you are gone. But, we made a commitment in their living room to treat them like they were our sons. That's what we've done, but the second chances may be over."
Hogs to Emphasize Dropback Pass
Houston Nutt said he is pleased that all of the quarterbacks returned for the spring semester, but he remains concerned about the physical healthy of Robby Hampton.
"We've got Ryan and Tarvaris healthy, but I don't know about Robby," Nutt said. "When he threw at Texas Stadium last month, he was extremely sore the next day. I think it's more than rotator cuff. I don't know if we will have him or not (this spring). Robby is here and he's going to try to play, but I'm still concerned about that shoulder."
Nutt said he had asked Matt Jones to throw the ball 30 minutes a day during his time with the basketball team this winter.
"That's what I asked him to do," Nutt said. "He needs to do the weight lifting, too. He's got to do some things to keep up. We've talked about those things.
"We'll delay spring practice until after spring break, but that's all. With the way our basketball team is playing, he could still miss some time."
Interestingly, Nutt emphasized that Jones was further away from being a complete quarterback, the spring goal, than Sorahan or Jackson.
"We are going to run a tiny bit of option, the draw package out of the shotgun and the midline," Nutt said. "The other quarterbacks, Sorahan and Jackson, can do that. Matt is the one who needs to improve his passing. He has to learn to set his feet in the dropback passing game, and that's going to be the big part of our offense. That's the way we are going, more dropback than option. If you look at the teams that are winning, that's the direction they are going. That's what Miami does, dropback and throw it. Matt has to learn that to catch up with the other two.
"But, I'll say this, I've seen Matt in a game, and I like what he does. He's proven some things to us. We have confidence that he can do it. The same goes for Ryan. We saw that he could do it in a game before he got hurt, and we saw what Tarvaris could do in some scrimmages and with the work with the scout team. We like our quarterbacks."
Houston Nutt said it was "too early" to announce position switches for spring practice, but some are being considered.
"I'll say right now that Pat Winn needs to go to offense," Nutt said. "I don't think he sees it, but I see it.
"Otherwise, I don't know of any others. I do know that John Thompson is fighting hard to get Brandon Holmes at middle linebacker. John is really putting a sell on Brandon Holmes to get him to agree to play middle linebacker. Danny Nutt is asking for Clarke Moore at fullback. But, none of that is decided right now."
Nutt: Cobbs Can Earn Spot on Team
Houston Nutt said Cedric Cobbs would be drug tested Monday, and would face random drug tests the rest of the semester, along with the rest of Arkansas football team.
"There will be some drug tested today," Nutt said. "But, Cedric has been clean the last 12 times we tested him. I don't think some people realize that.
"Some others will be tested today ... a group picked at random ... after the team meeting we have planned today."
Nutt said Cobbs was "very sorry" for his actions when he met with the head coach on Sunday.
"I'm proud of Cedric for the way he handled himself yesterday," Nutt said. "He said only one thing ... that he wanted to be a Razorback and was ready to do what was asked of him. That's the only thing he said. I'm proud of him, but right now, we are just talking about 24 hours. We'll see.
"He's suspended from our team, but he will have to do some things to get back in the family. He can get back in the family if he does them all. Cedric made a bad, bad decision, but he can get back if he continues to do right.
"It'll be a one-day-at-a-time deal. He'll have to our offseason program, and a long list of other things. Will he go throught spring practice? We'll have to wait and see on that one. He knows what is ahead, and it's hard and time consuming. We'll see if he does it all."