Boone visits Houston Nutt

Ole Miss Athletics Director Pete Boone flew to Fayetteville today to meet with new Football coach Houston Nutt and his family. When he got back to Oxford, he answered questions from the media about the visit, Nutt's contract and various other subjects.

Here is the transcript from Ole Miss AD Pete Boone's press gathering after visiting Houston Nutt and his family in Oxford today.

Q: Your general thoughts on the first meeting with Houston?

Boone: It went great. We met about 1 p.m. He picked me up in a nice, bright, red pickup and we went to his home. We visited with his wife Dianna and one of his daughters. We spent about two hours with him. We looked at his horses and talked some football.

Q: How important was it that this hire went quickly?

Boone: It was not critical but it was very important. Important because of the caliber of coach we had on the line. Normally we would not have done it this way - and there are some regrets like wanting to talk to more coaches and not talking to black coaches, I regret that - but when it's all said and done I think it is important that we moved quickly. This time, we have to get it right so when he became available we had to move fast.

Q: Do you feel a fit there after your meeting?

Boone: He is going to fit into Oxford and Ole Miss as well as anybody.

Q: Did you feel a sense of urgency to get it done since there are so many openings right now?

Boone: I probably did to a certain extent, but, and I don't know if this is the appropriate metaphor, but when you smell blood, you have to go get the job done. I think we were thorough in our discussions with him and about him and we covered all the things we needed to cover. I did feel like getting this thing done because the quickness of it was a benefit to everyone.

Q: When was the first time you were in contact with Coach Nutt?

Boone: I met him three or four years ago at Destin, but as far as this time, I had heard rumors he might resign last Wednesday. I didn't think about it at all until Sunday afternoon when I heard he was going to resign for sure. I called Frank Broyles for permission to talk to Houston and talked to him briefly Sunday night. He was reluctant to talk because he was still working at Arkansas.

Q: What are the financial terms of the contract?

Boone: We are paying him $1.7 million base pay the first year, then $1.8 the second year, $1.9 the third year, $2.0 million the fourth year and then he will have an option to extend it three times annually and get a $100,000 raise each of those years. It is his option to extend. I will give ya'll his package tomorrow so you can get the particulars more accurately.

Q: You had mentioned incentives as part of the package. Is that the case with him?

Boone: Yes. The base just went up! We got a salary survey for the SEC and the average of total compensation in the SEC is $2 million a year. The SEC is usually one of the highest in the country. The price of poker has gone up. Our numbers are reasonable as to going market rate, but we still have incentives, but they are traditional kinds of incentives and not based on wins.

Q: Your thoughts on assistant coaches?

Boone: His coaches are committed to coach in a bowl game, so we're not quite sure how that is going to play out. He'll be here tomorrow and will talk to some of our current coaches. Then he will come back Sunday and start the recruiting process but his assistants won't be here.

Q: Was there talk specifically about John Thompson, Hugh Freeze and others in the conversation?

Boone: I talked to him about all the ones who would like to stay. We have some very interested, Freeze and Thompson along with Art Kehoe and Tony Hughes and I think Ryan Nielsen, Chris Rippon and Dan Werner want to talk to him as well. He wants to talk to them but a lot of that will be predicated on how many of his assitants want to come. The catalyst will be if anyone on his staff pursues and gets other jobs.

Q: Have you been contacted by the Black Coaches Association?

Boone: I have not, but I tried to call Floyd Keith this morning to let him know why we did what we did. This was different than when we hired Ed and Andy. We did well on their scale in those two hires. The BCA was a heavy thought on our minds and this was not the best way to do this in that regard, but the Chancellor and I agreed we had to do this selection this way.

Q: Is this a statement hire to you?

Boone: There are not many Houston Nutts out there - who have had his amount of success, in the SEC and have recruited this immediate area. It was an absolute perfect fit.

Q: There has been a little off-the-field stuff with Houston. How much did that play in the process?

Boone: We did a lot of homework. Our Chancellor talked to their Chancellor, Lee Tyner talked with their general counsel, I talked to Frank Broyles. We felt very good about Houston Nutt and his character. I think he was well-thought of by the fan base there. Certainly there will be detractors anytime you are somewhere 10 years whether you are an AD, Chancellor or head coach. You are going to do some things over that period of time that gradually there will be some momentum built up with people who don't agree with what you are doing. That is not uncommon.

Q: Did you interview any other candidates?

Boone: No.

Q: Any thought to three former SEC West coaches now bein at other SEC West schools? Tuberville from Ole Miss to Auburn, Saban from LSU to Alabama and now Nutt from Arkansas to Ole Miss.

Boone: I haven't thought about it, but if it will sell tickets, I am all for it in terms of rivalries heating up!

Q: Clarify. Will you have just him here until after their bowl?

Boone: His assistants are obligated to coach the bowl game but he is not. There will be a flux between now and then of what he can do and we have our coaches that are already here. He will just have to make a decision on how he wants to move forward and I don't have that answer in that regard right now. It is totally his decision. I have recommended but not demanded some coaches here. It is his call.

Q: Did you have a list of candidates?

Boone: I had a list, but it was fluid and it was basically a fan list, so to speak. The leading candidates for fans, which has an impact, were guys who were good and were on my list, but I only focused on Coach Nutt.

Q: If Houston does not want any of those guys, you are contractually bound for longer periods to some of them, like Thompson. Would you consider any kind of administration post for John?

Boone: Certainly John has administrative experience and would be an asset here, but they will be led by their passion and I think they all have coaching in their hearts. I want them to be happy. We'll wait and see what happens.

Q: Did Archie Manning provide any input in this deal?

Boone: I tried to get him to, but he is very reluctant to do that. There are so many good folks out there that he knows. He answered any questions I had, but he was reluctant to push anyone.

Q: Was the big factor with Nutt his SEC experience and success?

Boone: I was drawn to the whole Houston Nutt package. This happened so quickly. I kept saying 'what is wrong with this picture? It can't be that good.' But in fact I think it is.

Q: When did you seal the deal last night?

Boone: We negotiated by phone and got through around 10 last night. I worked with his agent and then I called Houston.

Q: How well did you know Houston?

Boone: He's one of those guys you meet the first time and he's your lifelong friend. We have had a passing relationship but I have watched him closely as a coach.

Q: He will be here tomorrow only and then come back Sunday?

Boone: Yes. He has things to do in Fayetteville before he comes here fulltime Sunday.

Q: How did Neinas Sports Services figure into this?

Boone: He mentioned Houston early on but then we didn't go much further with it. I didn't need his help after he gave me background and the history of Houston. He said not to pay him, but I will pay him a little something. It won't be anywhere near what he normally charges, but he will be compensated a little.

Q: Is he here now?

Boone: No. I am meeting with the team at 7:30 in the morning. Then we are flying to get him at 8:30 in the morning. Then we will have a noon press conference and then he will meet with the team at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon and will fly back later tomorrow to Fayetteville.

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