Nutt Taking UA Assistants With Him

FAYETTEVILLE — Houston Nutt's Ole Miss coaching staff will definitely have an Arkansas flavor.

Nutt, who was hired by the Rebels on Monday, told The Morning News that three of his longtime assistants — offensive line coach Mike Markuson, tight ends coach James Shibest and safeties coach Chris Vaughn — will join him at Ole Miss.

In addition, the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger reported at least two others, offensive coordinator David Lee and defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, will follow him to Oxford next season.

Nutt, who was cleaning out his Arkansas office Friday, wouldn't confirm if all five assistants had been hired. But he said Markuson, Shibest and Vaughn will begin recruiting for Ole Miss immediately.

Nutt also said every one of his Arkansas assistants will continue to coach the Razorbacks through the bowl game.

"They're going to recruit," Nutt said of the three. "They'll definitely coach the bowl game. They're going to take this week and help me get organized and then come right back (to Arkansas)."

The situation leaves Arkansas in an unusual position. Some of its assistants will be working for both the Razorbacks and Ole Miss.

Marvin Caston, Arkansas' compliance director, said the athletic department checked with the Southeastern Conference to make sure it wasn't violating NCAA rules with the arrangement.

Caston said the SEC told him it worked with the NCAA during a similar situation in 2004, when then-Utah coach Urban Meyer was hired by Florida.

Meyer sent one assistant to Florida to begin recruiting full-time, while he and the rest of the staff remained with the Utes through the school's Fiesta Bowl appearance.

"(Meyer) was allowed to work for both schools," Caston said. "In terms of who is going over with Houston, that hasn't been made aware to me. But there has been precedent by the NCAA to allow a coach to work at both schools. To coach for one and recruit at another."

Outgoing athletic director Frank Broyles said Arkansas and Ole Miss will operate under those guidelines as long as neither has more than nine assistants on staff. Broyles believes it is important for Arkansas' staff to remain at "full strength" for bowl preparation.

"What we don't want Houston to do is take three or four coaches and not let them coach in the bowl game," Broyles said. "We need them in the bowl game. So we're willing to let them go over and work just for the Mississippi players that have committed."

Broyles said Arkansas interim coach Reggie Herring told him the three assistants will miss two bowl practices while recruiting for Ole Miss next week. They will return to their regular coaching duties with the Razorbacks when bowl preparation picks up in mid-December.

None of the assistants expected to join Nutt at Ole Miss would elaborate on the situation Friday. Lee and Shibest declined to comment. Markuson and Vaughn did not return messages. Rocker only said: "I'm still recruiting for Arkansas."

Herring said Wednesday that Rocker has been on the road recruiting for the Razorbacks. Arkansas has 19 oral commitments for 2008.

"It's kind of a sensitive time," Nutt said Friday. "But you want everybody doing a good job for the bowl preparation."

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