Nutt's Resignation A Shock To Players

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas strong safety Matt Hewitt thought Monday was going to be like any other day.

Still spending time with his family in Englewood, N.J., Hewitt woke up and flicked on his television set.

He couldn't believe his eyes.

At first, Hewitt thought it was another rumor, something that's happened frequently with Arkansas coach Houston Nutt over the last month. But then his teammates started to call, confirming the one thing he didn't want to hear.

"I was shocked. I couldn't believe it," said Hewitt, who's traveling back to Fayetteville today. "I immediately thought it wasn't true; I thought it was another rumor or whatever.

"But this time, it was all true — I just couldn't believe it."

Several of Arkansas' players reacted the same way Monday when the news began to spread about Nutt's resignation.

Although a lot of the players didn't believe the news early in the day, it was later confirmed when they met with Arkansas' coaching staff later in the day at the Broyles Athletic Center.

"The mood was pretty down, pretty quiet," linebacker Weston Dacus said. "There were some upset players. (Nutt) just let us know that he loved us and that he appreciated everything we'd done for him."

Dacus said he's been expecting the news for a long time, especially since controversy surrounding Nutt escalated over the summer. He wasn't the only one.

"I heard a couple rumors before the LSU game that it was going to happen," free safety Michael Grant said. "I've been expecting it for a long time. I hate to see him go because he's the only reason I came here to Arkansas.

"I don't think it's really even kicked in yet."

Running back Darren McFadden, who didn't take any questions from reporters following Monday's news conference, said he'll always be grateful for what Nutt has done for him.

McFadden came to Arkansas in 2005 after playing for Pulaski Oak Grove in Little Rock. He has since become one of the nation's best running backs — last year's Heisman Trophy runner-up and another strong candidate this year.

"With Coach Nutt, I loved playing for him," McFadden said. "He was a great coach. Like I said, I hate that it ends like this, but I'm very happy for him and I wish him the best in whatever he has to do."

Offensive lineman Jonathan Luigs said several of the players understood why Nutt decided to leave, adding it was a decision that surrounded his family.

"It's hard going around and having people talk about you and your family," Luigs said. "He needed to put this to rest, and I think he did in a proper manner.

"I think a lot of the players, myself included, can respect that about him. He just needed to do what was best for his family."

The one thing that defined Nutt's tenure was his relationship with players and the players' families, said Chris Houston, former Arkansas cornerback and a member of the Atlanta Falcons.

"He's one of the best coaches that I've ever had," Houston said. "His relationship with the players wasn't like other head coaches. He knew me, he knew my family and I could always count on (Nutt) if I had any kind of problem.

"I'm just disappointed because I don't know if anybody knows the kind of work that (Nutt) put into his job and the relationships he built with (the players)."

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