Last Call

Houston Nutt wraps up his time as the Ole Miss head football coach Saturday in Starkville, fired two weeks ago after failing to win enough games. Two consecutive losses in the Battle for the Golden Egg contributed greatly to his demise.

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In Nutt's first season, the Rebels easily handled Sylvester Croom's last Bulldog team to the tune of 45-0 in Oxford. The next year, Dan Mullen's first MSU team won 41-27. The Bulldogs followed that one up with a 31-23 win in Oxford last season.

The 2009 loss knocked Ole Miss out of a Capital One Bowl bid and sent the Rebels back to the Cotton Bowl for a second straight year. Last season's Rebel team finished 4-8, so there was no bowl awaiting them either way.

This season, if there is a loss to Mississippi State Saturday, Ole Miss will suffer its first 10-loss season ever and post its first season with as few as two wins in 65 years.

That also would be the first time Ole Miss would have lost to State three straight seasons on the gridiron since 1939-41.

Nutt said he believes the Rebels (2-8 overall, 0-7 in the Southeastern Conference) will be ready to play on Saturday.

"I feel really good about this," he said. "We've talked about this game throughout the summer. We had a lot of our Mississippi guys talking about this game. I feel good about it right now. I look forward to the week of preparation and getting ready for this game."

Nutt says he doesn't like the way he's heading out the door at Ole Miss.

"Since I've been told I wasn't going to be here, I don't like going out this way," Nutt said. "I don't like losing. I'm very competitive. Losing is the thing that just wrenches your gut. You try to do everything you can to win.

"I look at it like this. Fourteen years is a pretty good run in the toughest conference in America. There's not too many people that can say that. So I feel good about that. I've worked with some good players and good coaches. I'd like to have gone out a little bit different. We still have one game left, and really that's what I'm focusing on."

The Bulldogs must beat Ole Miss to become bowl eligible. They are 5-6 overall and 1-6 in the SEC. Nutt says being around the Ole Miss-Mississippi State rivalry for four years has been a learning experience.

"Here's what I've learned," he said. "No. 1 it's very important. When we first got here that very first year, it was 45-0 after coming off beating them nine out of 10 years (at Arkansas), I didn't think much about it. But all it takes is one loss against them. Then you understand it much, much, much, much, much, much better. I understand it fully, totally. We understand the emphasis that needs to be put on this game. 100 percent."

Houston Nutt
Bruce Newman

Nutt said he'll never know if beating MSU the past two seasons might have salvaged his career at Ole Miss into the future.

"I don't know. I don't make those decisions," he said. "We had two very, very good years. Two back to back Cotton Bowls. The first time that's happened in 50 something years. Then, as you know, we didn't do as well the next two years.

"Four years is pretty quick time, but it's the world that we're in. The decision makers make that decision."

Nutt said he hopes to coach again somewhere.

"I still feel like there's one more run left in me. I feel like I can help somebody one more time. We'll see what's available and who has interest and go from there."

But for now, it's one last shot at getting the Golden Egg back for Ole Miss that his program lost two years ago.

"I've been focusing really hard on this last game. Looking forward to this week," Nutt said. "Big week."

For Nutt at Ole Miss, make that the last week.

More Nutt Notes:

On Mississippi State: "Their defensive line is outstanding. Those guys are really, really good. I know they're probably a little disappointed with what they've done this year, because they expected much more (as a team), like a lot of us. Defensively when you watch them play, they get to the football. They're physical. Offensively, the offensive line, all those guys are big and strong and move good. They've been using three different quarterbacks. It will be interesting to see which one they use. It's going to come back down to who can stop the run and who can run it."

On Barry Brunetti: "I was really proud of Barry. Not playing very much this year, the way he competed, I thought he gave us some juice. Really picked us up. I'm looking for a good week from him. I'm excited about our gameplan with him, and he is, too."

On what the recruits at the Ole Miss-LSU game said to him Saturday: "They've been great. They were really nice. They basically wanted to ask about the future. Then they were into the ballgame."

On what he would tell the next coaching staff this Ole Miss team needs: "If the next staff asks, I'll tell them to go get a pass rusher, some tailbacks, recruit a quarterback, and you'll be alright."

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