Broyles In Support of Nutt's Decisions

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt remained tight-lipped on any potential changes to his staff Monday, but athletic director Frank Broyles made it clear he's backing any decision the eighth-year coach makes.

"Whatever he needs to get the program right where he wants it, we'll be ready to support him," Broyles said.

Nutt is pondering plenty after the Razorbacks wrapped up a 4-7 season with their 19-17 loss at No. 3 LSU on Friday. It was the second straight season Arkansas failed to become bowl-eligible and was its worst record since 1997 (Arkansas also finished 4-7 that season).

Broyles said his discussions with Nutt have centered on the program's future and "what we want to do and how we want to get there." Nutt planned to meet with Broyles to continue his evaluation Monday. But Broyles said the two have only discussed a "few individual things" since meeting for 45 minutes last Saturday.

Broyles said Nutt is in charge of making any decisions regarding his coaching staff and believes he's working on a good plan.

"He's trying to work it out," Broyles said. "You can't put it all together in one day. It takes times. So take time and figure out what you want to do.

"Get your game plan for next year. It all starts with your staff."

Nutt, who wasn't available for comment Monday, said he wouldn't rule out hiring an offensive coordinator to take over play-calling duties during Sunday's season-ending press conference. Nutt has handled the task throughout his eight-year tenure at Arkansas, but the Razorbacks struggled to find a balanced attack in 2005.

Arkansas averaged 25.7 points, but was held to 17 points or less in five of its seven losses. The Razorbacks, who averaged 360.6 yards (216.9 rushing, 143.7 passing), never challenged defenses through the air until the season's final month.

If Nutt hires an offensive coordinator, it would push him into what Broyles described as a "chairman of the board" position. Broyles said he had offensive and defensive coordinators during his coaching tenure. He also surrounded himself with "good coaches" and said he was comfortable in a chairman-type position.

"When you're the offensive coordinator, you gain certain things on offense that you can do because you're the head coach and you lose a few things on defense," Broyles said. "And when you're the chairman of the board, you lose a little bit of the offense, but you pick up a little of the defense. So it's kind of give and take.

"That's his call. And he's working on that decision right now."

Nutt also is working to sort out the rest of his coaching staff, where changes are imminent after the disappointing season. Assistants have met with Nutt the past few days, but several -- including defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, safeties coach Chris Vaughn, tight ends coach Clifton Ealy and offensive line coach Mike Markuson -- have declined to comment on their status with the Razorbacks.

Broyles said the decision to hire and fire is Nutt's call. He's endorsing the coach's plan to improve the program, but declined to elaborate on staff specifics.

"I don't go into meetings," Broyles said about any staff changes. "I've never been on the practice field. That's his call. He's with them every day. If there needs to be (changes), he will (make changes). He's in discussions with his staff right now.

"He's just going over and meeting with them and will make decisions later."

Nutt wasn't the only Southeastern Conference coach considering changes Monday.

Former Ole Miss coach and Tennessee assistant David Cutcliffe was re-introduced as the Volunteers' offensive coordinator. Cutcliffe, who succeeds the fired Randy Sanders, worked at Tennessee from 1983-98 and left to become head coach at Ole Miss. Cutcliffe was fired by the Rebels last season and joined Charlie Weis' staff at Notre Dame, but resigned after undergoing triple bypass heart surgery last spring.

Cutcliffe's former school, Ole Miss, announced it was firing offensive coordinator, Noel Mazzone, after more than a week of speculation. Mazzone left North Carolina State to join first-year Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron this season, but was fired after the Rebels managed only 13.5 points and 281.7 yards a game.

Nutt said firing coaches is the most difficult part of the profession.

"You get close with your coaches," Nutt said Sunday. "You work with them, you're day-in and day-out. You sweat together. You laugh together. You cry together. You win ballgames together. All those things. That's the toughest thing, if you ask any coach, the toughest thing in our profession.

"We're not tenured. It's year to year and you're evaluated every Saturday in front of 70,000 and it's about winning."

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