Why do your teams do so well in OT games? Why have your teams continued to improve down the stretch nearly every season?
There are a lot of questions and answers relevant to a situation like this. To me, those are the ones that have gotten Houston and the Hogs to Atlanta twice and to New Year's Day Bowls five times in 10 years.
And that's where Ole Miss fans want to be – in Atlanta in early December and somewhere special to ring out the old and ring in the new.
It all starts today, or tomorrow, officially, as the Houston Nutt era at Ole Miss begins.
Whether you have been a big Houston Nutt fan in the past or not, you've had to respect his teams. I was normally impressed, especially with the above points I've already made.
In the past day or so, I figured out why some here might not have been huge Houston Nutt fans. It's because he was on the other sideline whipping Ole Miss' butt too much (seven times in 10 years). That was it – in a nutshell.
Tell you what else we'll all like when examining this closer as most already have. He's 9-1 against State. A 90 percent success rate against the guys from down in Starkville? I hear ya, Houston. Keep that up and this thing will roll.
But what Ole Miss fans want after the Egg Bowl is another bowl. Obviously there's the so-far elusive SEC title game in early December. Nutt knows the road there, having been a couple of times in his 10 seasons. He knows Cotton Bowls and Citrus Bowls and he knows Ole Miss wants to go to the Sugar Bowl again.
But this thing is only starting, and so we put those out there for now and welcome him to Oxford. Hey, North Mississippi is a fairly long drive from Northwest Arkansas. But there's only a river dividing the two states. Some coaches might not have felt at home here. Nutt will be right at home here. And he will be welcomed here.
When a season sours and a program heads down, a coaching change normally lifts spirits. That's certainly been the case the last day or two. It hasn't been all that much fun at Ole Miss football games lately. Some stayed in the Grove. Some didn't even drive to Oxford at all for games. Road crowds were sparse and embarrassing.
Nov. 27 is a new day for Ole Miss football. There is some apprehension, sure. Can Nutt do here what he did at Arkansas? Can he do more? Which situation is best? Are the resources better at one place or another? Is it easier to recruit here or there?
Many of those questions will never be answered accurately. There is no crystal ball to tell us that. There's only hard work and time and patience and everybody pulling together. That's what Nutt will probably tell us all tomorrow, and we'll need to listen as he becomes the leader of the Rebel Nation – at least the football side of it.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Nutt used to call the Hogs. Looked real natural doing it, too.
He may even be up for a rousing "Are You Ready?" before he's settled in on day one here. We'll see.
But I know what I want to know the most.
"Did you bring that secret to success with you in those close, OT games?"
(Beat Ole Miss in seven OTs in 2001. Beat Kentucky in seven OTs in 2003. Beat LSU in 3 OTs just last Friday when the Tigers were ranked No. 1. He's 8-2 all-time as head coach at Murray State, Boise State, and Arkansas in OTs, and 6-1 with the Hogs in extended games.)
"Will there be some of those strong stretch runs into December here?"
(The Razorbacks ended with trips to Atlanta twice and bowl teams eight of Nutt's 10 seasons there.)
It's a new era at Ole Miss, and this one's got a chance to be special. Nutt's success at Arkansas shows us that.
Looking for answers to some key questions
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