Rocker Denies Green Bay Interest

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt won't be surprised if the Green Bay Packers are interested in adding defensive line coach Tracy Rocker to their staff.

But Nutt said Monday afternoon the Packers haven't called seeking permission to speak with the Razorbacks' second-year assistant. Until then, Nutt won't believe any reports that link Rocker to the Green Bay opening.

"I would've thought by now, if that was true, somebody would've called me," Nutt said Monday. "And I know for sure Tracy already would've called me had somebody called him. I haven't heard from anybody.

"Bottom line, there's nothing happening right now."

Rocker's name emerged when a television station in Birmingham, Ala., reported the former Auburn All-American interviewed with the Packers and could be leaving the Razorbacks to accept an NFL position. The job opened when Green Bay defensive line coach Jethro Franklin took the same position with Southern California last week.

Rocker denied the reports when contacted Monday, calling them "just air," and said he hasn't spoken with the Packers. He also told a university spokesperson, "I'm a Razorback. I'm just trying to go out and recruit."

"I don't know nothing about (the Packers)," Rocker said. "I'm here. That's my plan."

Arkansas helped Rocker, an Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award winner at Auburn, return to the Southeastern Conference after former coach Kacy Rodgers left the Razorbacks' staff in 2003. Rocker, who was the SEC Player of the Year in 1988, began his coaching career at Auburn (Ala.) High in 1992 and has had stops at West Alabama (1994-96), Troy State (1997-2001) and Cincinnati (2002).

The Atlanta native, who recruits his hometown and parts of Alabama, is scheduled to return to the road today. Nutt said Rocker has had an excellent recruiting season and believes the success leaves him susceptible to coaching rumors.

"I don't like the timing at all, which is what makes me think there's a little bit of a hoax to it," Nutt said. "All of a sudden, the week before signing date (Feb. 2), let's throw out a big rumor.

"We have some outstanding recruits that have committed. I think that's the basis of the whole thing. There might be a little truth out there, but when a coach doesn't call you, when a coach doesn't call Tracy Rocker, that's a rumor."

Nutt said Rocker has a "good name" after two seasons in Fayetteville and deserves any recognition he receives from NFL teams. Any interest shouldn't be surprising because the NFL has had a history of hiring former Arkansas defensive line coaches.

Bill Johnson left the Hogs after a one-year stint as defensive line coach to take a similar position with the Atlanta Falcons in 2000. Rodgers turned one season as defensive line coach into an NFL job, joining the Dallas Cowboys in Jan. 2003.

Rocker has garnered interest from the NFL before, turning down a chance to join the Chicago Bears last winter. If the Packers came calling, Nutt said assistant coaches with one-year contracts "have to listen when people approach you."

"I'm not surprised," Nutt said of Rocker's involvement in job openings. "If you look at our record, if you look at our past defensive line coaches, they've gone from here to the NFL. But we don't want to lose coach Rocker. We want him to stay. I think his wife and son are very happy here and we don't want to lose him."

But Nutt doesn't believe that's a threat until he hears from Rocker or the Packers.

"There's no basis for it," Nutt said. "No one has called me. No one has called Tracy. There are jobs open. I just don't know how these things get started.

"I know him well enough where he would come to me first. I just feel like Green Bay, I feel like that organization would call me to get permission."

NUTT RELEASED

Nutt said his brother, Arkansas running backs coach Danny Nutt, was released from the hospital Sunday after nearly a week-long stay. According to a university spokesperson, Nutt checked into the hosptial Tuesday night and was under the close watch of doctors as they regulated his high blood pressure.

Nutt said his brother should return to his regular duties with the Razorbacks soon.

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