"You know, it feels like I've been here a long time," Nutt said. "It's the way I feel right now. Again, I think because of the transition, it's been so smooth. I realize we haven't played a game yet. I understand that. But this was a good move, I think, for our coaches' families. You feel that way. You feel the players feel that way. So I just feel like I've been here a while. I know we haven't played a game yet. But you just feel good about it."
While Ole Miss starts the season with a traditional rival game against Memphis, much of the attention on Thursday was given to a game much later in the schedule. On Oct. 25 Ole Miss travels to Fayetteville to face the Razorbacks, a game Nutt said he can't help but to think about despite it being months away.
"You can't help but think about it," Nutt said. "You grew up in Arkansas. You thought at one time you'd be there for life. I had 10 great years of experience there working with some great people. We won three titles. Two of them went to Atlanta. Very close against Florida, winning that ballgame. So we had some great days, great times there. You can't help but think what it's going to be like coming in from the visitor side. But quickly my mind goes back to Memphis."
One of the question marks surrounding Nutt's move is how would he be welcomed by the current Ole Miss team. Defensive tackle Peria Jerry said as far as he's concerned Nutt is the right type of coach to lead the Rebels to improvement and he feels like the atmosphere has changed with his arrival.
"I've got great respect for him. He's working us hard, has us doing a lot of running. Everyone loves him in town. The optimism is extremely high. I feel like everyone has a much more positive attitude and we're just ready for the season to start and to start working hard. (Coach Nutt) He's my type of guy. He's very high energy, and I'm high energy myself. He has everyone staying positive and telling us to stick together, like family. Everyone's doing a great job with that."
For Nutt and Ole Miss the job is a difficult one this season. Playing in the toughest conference in the country and in his first season on the job, many would make it an impossible chore to make Ole Miss a contender in the Western Division but this isn't a Rebel team void of talent. With quality players returning on both sides of the ball, Nutt said his first Ole Miss team has a chance to be much better than people think with a shot to make it to the SEC Championship game.
"I would put us in there," Nutt said. "Again, I'm not saying that, boy, you can give us our bus ticket, we're going to Atlanta. But what I am saying, if you walked these athletes in from each of those nine or ten teams that I'm talking about, you walked them in and compared them to different leagues, you'd say on paper, Whoa, they got (Tim) Tebow, Heisman Trophy winner; you got this receiver, this back, this defensive end. I mean, there's a lot of athleticism, a lot of good athletes that can run, jump, hit you, block. It's good enough. But what you don't know is who's going to get hurt, who's going to stay healthy, who's going to get the ball that bounces just right. So there's just a lot of variables, a lot of factors that are involved.
"But that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to change the mindset of our program. We want to win. We want to win right now. I think it would be unfair to say, Okay, we're going to rebuild, just kind of gradually I think it's unfair for your seniors. Two guys I have here today, Peria Jerry, Michael Oher, it would be very unfair of how hard they've worked. You look at Greg Hardy, Marcus Tillman, Dexter McCluster, Michael Wallace, it would be so unfair to those guys to say, We kind of got to start rebuilding a little bit now, we're gonna work our way up. I can't do that. We're not built that way. Our staff is built to let's go, let's go as hard as we can, and let's go right now."