Nutt's Future Remains Uncertain

FAYETTEVILLE -- Thanks to a game-winning interception by cornerback Matterral Richardson, Arkansas became the talk of the college football world.

And things didn't die down any Saturday.

A day after shocking LSU 50-48 in triple overtime, the Razorbacks continued to enjoy the national attention that comes with knocking off the No. 1 team in the country.

Running back Darren McFadden, who boosted his Heisman Trophy chances by rushing for 206 yards and accounting for four touchdowns in the win, was interviewed Saturday morning on ESPN's College GameDay.

Highlights of McFadden breaking off one of his three touchdown runs, or Richardson intercepting a Matt Flynn pass to seal the win, were repeatedly shown on TV.

And major sports Web sites had Arkansas' upset in Baton Rouge splashed on their front pages with clever headlines. The New York Post's Web site featured the headline, "LS-Through!"

"More than half of ya'll didn't think we could do it," Arkansas fullback Peyton Hillis told a group of reporters following Friday's win. "We came here and we got a win. We got one for the team and one for the University of Arkansas."

But while college football analysts debated McFadden's Heisman chances and discussed the significance of LSU's loss on the national championship race, one question loomed: What does Friday's win mean for Arkansas coach Houston Nutt?

Reports have surfaced over the past two weeks claiming that Nutt will not be back next season to coach the Razorbacks, though no Arkansas official has publicly said that.

Incoming Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long refused to discuss the situation following Friday's surprising win in Tiger Stadium.

Long has been serving as an advisor to UA Chancellor John White, and he will continue in that role until current athletic director Frank Broyles retires at the end of the year.

"I'm so proud to be associated with this program and the way these young people played and the way they kept fighting back," Long said, waiting outside the visitors' locker room to congratulate Nutt.

A decision regarding Nutt's future could come sometime in the next few days, perhaps by Monday.

But sources familiar with the situation said Saturday that there is a chance that Nutt could leave for another head coaching job or receive a contract extension from Arkansas. The chances of him being fired appear less likely after beating top-ranked LSU.

Nutt did not return calls to his cell phone Saturday afternoon, but he will meet with reporters at 2 p.m. today for his usual Sunday news conference.

He's expected to review Arkansas' regular season, though his future will likely become a major topic of conversation.

During his postgame news conference Friday night, Nutt was asked if he thought the win over LSU settled any talk about his job security.

Nutt's response led to an awkward exchange between him and Mark Lericos, sports director of KHBS/KHOG 40/29. The news station was one of several media outlets that reported two weeks ago that Nutt would be leaving at the end of the season.

"You've got to ask him," Nutt said, turning to Lericos. "Ask Mark. Mark got (the story). Mark broke it. He says I'm going to resign. I don't know."

Nutt has already been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Baylor job, and his name was brought up Saturday as a potential replacement for Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss.

Orgeron was fired a day after the Rebels (3-9) suffered a fourth-quarter collapse to lose to rival Mississippi State 17-14 in the annual Egg Bowl. The loss capped a tumultuous season for Ole Miss, which went winless in the Southeastern Conference and was mired by off-the-field issues.

Nutt showed in his first season at Arkansas in 1998 that he can turn around a struggling program, winning his first eight games. He's also been named the SEC coach of the year twice, in 2001 and after going 10-4 last season.

Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone said during a news conference Saturday afternoon that he has not compiled a list of candidates and will use a search firm to assist in finding Orgeron's replacement.

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