I was waiting for Steve Mariucci. I was ready to hear a name like possibly Al Saunders. I was waiting to be ‘wowed'. Why wouldn't I be? After all, Athletic Director, Steve Pederson has taken his own sweet time in what was believed to be an almost obsessive search for absolutely the best coach. That takes time if you are going to determine who the right guy is. The envelope please. And the winner is.............Houston Nutt?????
I would like to preface this with some politically correct garbage so that my comments can't be interpreted as attacks on the character, credibility or capability of one, Houston Nutt.
Ok, now that, that is out of the way......................huh?
We've heard all the rumors and some stories that for once aren't rumors at all. Printed reports in legit media publications that say Al Saunders, the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs was offered the job at Nebraska and said, no thanks.
We've also seen on TV the reports that were confirmed, that the current head coach for Arkansas, Houston Nutt was being interviewed just this last night for that same job that Saunders turned down.
I have to admit, my head is spinning a bit. With all the delays, I thought the momentum was building for a grandiose announcement. With all the silence from the office of, Steve Pederson, I thought for sure that we would hear about some super-duper head coach that would indeed wow the heck out of everyone.
If Houston Nutt is indeed the final choice as head coach for the Big Red, I would say ‘wow' just turned into ‘what the?'.
Houston Nutt? Are you kidding me? The same Houston Nutt that is 48-27 during his six years at Arkansas? Yeah, that's a winning record in a conference that's pretty darn good, but here I thought Steve Pederson was actually going for an obvious answer to NU's problem rather than bringing another guy in that statistically isn't even as good as the one he just fired.
The fact that Pederson is even interviewing this guy isn't good. I understand that in any interview process when you are trying to find the very best candidates, you have to cover your bases, look at all the options and decide amongst those options who's the best for the job.
Just by interviewing Nutt at all, Pederson indicates, at least to me, that his options have all but run out.
I find it even more disturbing that since the news has come out about this possible hiring of the Arkansas head coach, there have been more fans coming out from Arkansas that want Pederson to hire him than Nebraska fans.
Don't you find that a little odd if not totally disturbing?
Or maybe the fact that he's got 17 commits now, that's what's so impressive about him. He's supposed to be a capable recruiter, especially in Texas and Florida. Well, looking at our current list of commits to the Razorbacks, I see 7 kids from within Arkansas, two 2-star running backs from Texas and nobody from the sunshine state.
I don't get it.
Someone see something I don't here? Arkansas fans that are diehard followers of the old Nuttster might take umbrage with my comments, but step back, take a look at who Pederson just fired, the program Nebraska is and take a look back at Houston himself.
Where's the ‘wow'? Where's the ‘new direction'? Where's the confidence anyone can have that this guy is THE guy to take Nebraska back to where they are used to being?
Ok, let's take another step back. Perhaps this is just a ploy by Houston Nutt to get more money from Arkansas. Coaches do that all the time and what a better opportunity will Nutt have to see how much he's worth at his Alma Mater than now? Nebraska is a big job, big opportunity, big support. They will be able to come up with enough money to make Arkansas have to work to get him back.
All I can say to that is, I am crossing my fingers.
Yes, when normally I could hold a masters in riding the fence, I can't stay off of it this time. Steve Pederson has made it very clear in what he has said and hasn't said during this entire parade. It's his show, his way, his goal, his dream, his vision, his, his, his. He got what he wanted, because the focus is indeed solely on him.
You can't turn to ESPN and not see it come up somewhere and of course, Pederson's name comes up. You can't buy a local paper without at least two articles linked to this current situation and there he is, Pederson's name on just about every paragraph.
If he wanted the spotlight, he's got it, but perhaps in a way he hoped would never come to pass.
Did Pederson want too much control? Was he dictating assistant coaches to prospective head coaches? Was he wanting someone who would cater to his every whim? Did everyone else want too much money, too many clauses in their contract or did they just decide that Nebraska wasn't that great of a job after all?
I don't know and I wish I had the answer, but when I hear that Houston Nutt is now the lead candidate for the job at NU, my stomach doesn't take it too well.
Jerry Jones as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys has earned a reputation over the years. It's one that says he's a remarkable businessman, a shrewd investor, but he's also an egocentric-meddling-narcissist.
Only after Dallas having fallen from grace to the tune of three straight 5-win seasons did Jones let go, hire a coach that could really take the program back and be ‘just' an owner in the end. Ok, ‘just' an owner for him, that is.
Pederson isn't a businessman, he's a politician and you know the reputation they have. What good they end up doing for anyone or anything is often not a result of intent, rather coincidence, because it was their own reputation they were serving in the end.
I would say Irony is the best description of how you could describe what might be the hiring of Houston Nutt. Ironic that when you are trying to look your best, you look your worst. Ironic being that when you were faced with the biggest decision of your professional career, in hopes to hit a home run, you instead knocked a dribbler to short. Ironic that during a time where the NU fans needed someone that was totally concentrated on them, they instead got someone totally concentrated on themself.
I don't like that kind of irony.
This is possibly the most critical time for the Nebraska football program since Devaney came on board in 1962. No, the expectations aren't even in the same atmosphere, because then, there were none, now there are decidedly more.
Nebraska fans have seen the program go in two directions the past few years. Up when they played for a national title, down when they hit one of the worst single-season slides in forty years and back up again, the rebound of Nebraska and it's defense to national prominence.
Steve Pederson said he wanted to take Nebraska in a NEW direction. Laterally is all that is left, relatively unchanging, few noticeable ebbs in the waves of success. Ok, if that's his logic, great, hire Houston Nutt.
I guess it can't get any worse.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619