Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt will earn his big salary in the next few day. He is faced with a tough problem in how to handle the situation with safety Ken Hamlin, now charged with his second alcohol-related offense in just over one year. Hamlin was booked by Fayetteville police late last week for an offense that included driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without a driver's license, no car tags and no car insurance.
I think the tough part is not what Houston does, but the public perception of where the program is at and what will happen as far as recruiting. All of this will be used against him. In some homes, it will play tougher than the NCAA investigation. So, when Houston Nutt tells the players they are representing the UA and his program, he is telling them a major headline in these type of situations.
So you have two areas of concerns ... what this does with fans and what it does with recruits. When I say fans, I'm talking about people that really do support your program, not those who like to rip you and don't really buy tickets anyway. There is a lot of that going on, too. If you are Nutt, you have to consider damage control in both areas ... fans and recruiting.
As far as recruiting, this situation can work for him if he handles it right. If you just flush a kid, then that will be used against you more than anything else. Parents want to see you take their young man and do something good with them. I think when you take a Carlos Hall and turn him around, you are doing something parents notice. I'm talking about the parents of recruits. And, if you don't quite get it done with a Ken Hamlin ... a great player ... and eventually have to flush them, you have created a black mark that is hard to overcome in recruiting.
Hence, it is my feeling that you do everything you can to keep him in your program and correct his behavior. I don't know how Nutt is going to do this at this point, but I bet that is still the goal. Does it involve some time sitting on the bench ... maybe, but I don't know at this point what's going to be done.
I do feel Houston Nutt is properly equipped to make the right decisions. He's a good man, a smart coach and a good father. All of that factors in to what he will do and how he will handle it. But, it's not going to be easy. A good summer just turned into another hard summer for the Arkansas coach. Again, he's going to earn his salary.