Nutt Moves On Quickly, Takes Job At Ole Miss

FAYETTEVILLE -- Ole Miss defensive coordinator John Thompson has been in the coaching business for 30 years. In that time, he has bounced from job to job to job.

So the Forrest City native didn't flinch when he heard former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt -- one of his former bosses -- had been hired by the Rebels on Tuesday.

"I don't think much surprises me in this business anymore," Thompson said.

But what about Arkansas? The Razorbacks learned Nutt will lead a Southeastern Conference division foe less than 12 hours after resigning at Arkansas. Nutt will be introduced as Ole Miss' 36th head coach at a news conference in Oxford today at noon.

The quick jump will be a lucrative one for Nutt. Athletic director Pete Boone said Nutt has agreed to a four-year contract with the Rebels that will pay him $7.4 million.

Even more, Nutt walks away from Arkansas with roughly $3.5 million in deferred compensation as part of a settlement agreement with the school. The money would've been forfeited if he resigned under the original terms of his Arkansas contract, but chancellor John White said the university eliminated those "golden handcuffs" and rewarded Nutt for his 10 years of service Monday.

A university spokesperson said White was unavailable for comment Tuesday. Athletic director Jeff Long, who is heading up the search for a new coach, also was unavailable.

But outgoing athletic director Frank Broyles said he wasn't surprised to hear Nutt had locked up another job. He also maintained the Razorbacks made the right decision to settle with Nutt even after learning he had agreed to terms with an SEC division foe.

"I would not think that we were going to give him some money so he couldn't get another job," Broyles said. "That wasn't the issue one bit. To the contrary. It was the issue that we hoped he would get a job."

It didn't take Nutt long to solidify a new stop, coming to terms with Ole Miss late Monday.

As a result, Broyles was asked if he thought part of Nutt's settlement negotiations with Arkansas should've included a clause that wouldn't allow the coach to go to another SEC team. His reply was emphatic: "Absolutely not."

"I would not have supported that at all," he said. "That's just not the way life is. He has given us 10 years of wonderful football and he has the right, in my judgement, to go where he wants to go."

Arkansas offered Nutt a raise, but he decided to step down from his position in hopes it would heal a fractured fanbase. The Little Rock native said he would remain a "Razorback for life" and hoped his departure would give the state "one heartbeat."

Jim Lindsey, a member of Arkansas' Board of Trustees, admitted he was a little surprised by Nutt's quick move to Ole Miss. But Lindsey also added "there's nothing we can do" in terms of the financial arrangements anymore.

"It was a decision made at the highest level of the institution," Lindsey said. "It won't hurt me. A man deserves to have a job, you know?"

Ole Miss' announcement means Nutt will be guiding his new team against his former employer every season. The Rebels will play in Fayetteville on Oct. 25, 2008.

Senior defensive tackle Marcus Harrison won't be on Arkansas' roster for that game, but said news of the coach's jump to Ole Miss spread rapidly Tuesday. He said it would be "funny" to see Nutt wearing an Ole Miss coaching shirt next season.

"I was sad he had to leave his dream job, but as you can tell, good coaches, they're not going to be open for long," Harrison said. "He was able to get him a job real quick. Suprisingly, it was super fast. But I'm supporting him 100 percent.

"It's a business. That's what happens sometimes."

Broyles said the move from one school to another isn't new to the SEC, though.

Tommy Tuberville left Ole Miss to take a position at Auburn in 1998. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who led Florida to a national title in his 12 seasons at the school, returned to the league in 2005 after a two-year stint in the NFL. Nick Saban followed the same route, going from LSU to the Miami Dolphins to Alabama.

But Broyles didn't want to think about Nutt's return as Ole Miss' coach next fall.

"I don't think I'll go to that game," he said.

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