Hogs Players Not Surprised By Nutt's Decision

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas players were relieved, but not surprised, that Hogs coach Houston Nutt took his name out of consideration for the LSU job Wednesday afternoon.

"It shows me that he really believes in our program and in us as players," said tight end Marc Winston. "And now we've got to return the favor by doing everything we can to win for that man."

None of the players contacted seemed upset that Nutt showed interest in LSU after he was contacted about the vacancy by Tigers athletic director Skip Bertman earlier this week.

"I ain't hurt about it," said linebacker Sam Olajubutu. "Coaching in college these days, that's how it is. LSU has the means to offer him a lot of money and let's face it, money can turn anybody's head for a second."

But this is the second time Nutt's head has been turned, even for a second, by a program after Nebraska offered Nutt its head coaching job a year ago.

The way Nutt handled the Nebraska situation is what kept Razorbacks safety Vickiel Vaughn from fretting too much about the possibility of his coach leaving this time around.

"Even though LSU was showing interest, I never felt like he would take it based on the fact that he's had other offers like last year with Nebraska," Vaughn said. "He could have took that, but he didn't and so I wasn't too much worried about it."

Apparently, a few other Razorbacks were as they began calling Vaughn as soon as word spread of LSU's inquiry.

"Most of the guys, I just tried to ease their tension and told them that you can't really worry about that, whatever happens is going to happen," Vaughn said. "This was a rivalry school that goes up against Arkansas and I don't think anybody can deny that LSU is a top program, so it would be hard not to at least listen to what they have to say.

"And I don't fault him at all for just listening."

Hogs cornerback Darius Vinnett was home for the holidays in St. Rose, La., and received several calls from teammates and friends at other schools wanting to know what he was hearing in his hometown. Some even told Vinnett that Nutt was going to accept the job.

So when Vinnett heard Nutt had officially taken his name out of the running for the opening, he clearly was excited.

"That's what I'm talking about right there, that's what I wanted to hear," Vinnett said. "That's the reason I came to Arkansas, is for coach Nutt and his staff."

Local newspapers led Vinnett to believe that Nutt may end up taking the LSU job as well, which caused him even more concern than the calls from teammates and friends.

"For three days now, the newspapers made it sound like it was going to happen," Vinnett said. "At first, I was too worried about it and then when it came out in the paper (Wednesday) for the third day in a row, I started to wonder and that's when I called (Arkansas secondary coach Bobby) Allen to see what's up because I got kind of scared.

"Coach Allen was just like, 'Don't take it like that, it's just the newspapers blowing it up. He has been in this situation before and he is not going to leave because he knows that Arkansas is something special.'"

Whether Nutt's flirting with LSU will help or hurt the program remains open to debate, but all of the players contacted Wednesday are looking at the situation as a positive.

"I feel that when you have high prestige colleges like Nebraska and LSU coming in and showing interest in your coach, it lets you know that it's a privilege to be coached by Houston Nutt," Winston said. "Right now, he's a high-profile coach. Even after the season that we just had (the Hogs were 5-6 and failed to reach a bowl for the first time in six years), people realize that he still is a great coach.

"If I was a recruit, I would feel that he is very dedicated to the University of Arkansas ... And now more than ever."

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