Q: One questions for the fans? Are you going to consider putting the names back on the jerseys?
HN: I've always had the name on the back of the jersey. As long as they know the name on the front of that jersey is so, so important, and there's nothing wrong with putting the name on the back of the jersey, because momma and grandma and uncle and aunt, they gotta know where their boy is.
Q: Can you shed any light on your staff situation now?
HN: That's always the toughest thing right now, for the head coach as soon as he gets a new job to name a staff. I'm in the process right now. I do have a few that are coming with me. I can't say right now at this time who is going to be the ones. I'm still interviewing. Some interviews will happen starting Sunday. That's when I get back to campus on Sunday and hit the road recruiting.
Q: You have a long history with Arkansas and that's a rival of yours now. Are you ready to stick it to them? Are you comfortable with that?
HN: I love Arkansas. I'm from Arkansas. But today I'm an Ole Miss Rebel and I'm excited to be here.
Q: Where would you rank your priorities at this stage, especially when looking over the next week or two weeks?
HN: That's a good question. The first thing I want to do is I've asked Pete Boone to allow me to speak to my players. That's the first thing I want to do. I can't wait to look into their eyes. The next thing of course is staff. Recruiting. It's always a whirlwind, the first 10 to 12 days. That's very, very difficult. But I want to talk to the players and try to get to know them quickly. Get the staff in line. And then recruiting.
Q: How does your recruiting change in a state that has two SEC schools and a strong Conference school?
HN: One of the great things about this move is that I've had the privilege to be in the SEC for 10 years. I know what's going on in the game of recruiting, especially being in Arkansas for 10 years. I always like to start at home, in the state of Mississippi. You always start at home first and work your way out. You can't be afraid to leave the state. You can't be afraid to go and sell to a young man that this is the greatest place in the world to get an education, to play in the greatest conference in America. So the recruiting part won't change that much for me. Because there's not that much difference. The big difference is there are more junior colleges in the state of Mississippi. We'll get all that organized, hit the road running, roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Q: What about recruits/commitments of the previous head coach here who are currently committed to Ole Miss?
HN: I don't know that yet. Again, I'll have to look at everything, evaluate the film, look at everything. We'll get on top of that starting Sunday. I know it will be a very tough time and some anxious moments. But we'll get on that very, very quickly.
Q: You said in your press conference Sunday that you were a Razorback for life. Has that changes?
HN: In your heart, when you've grown up calling the Hogs, that's one thing. But I want to tell you this, today I'm an Ole Miss Rebel.
Q: How flexible is your offense to adapt to personnel?
HN: Very, very flexible. Very flexible. If you look at Clint Stoerner, he still holds the passing records when we had Anthony Lucas at wide receiver, Michael Williams, we had some very good wideouts. Clint Stoerner got to the NFL. Then we went into a period of the Matt Jones era which was not a true dropback passer, but we still threw the ball. Hey it's what have on campus. It's about having fun. It's about winning. It's about trying to win the SEC championship with the players you have on campus. You do what they do best.
Q: What do you know about the players here now, and how do you go about evaluating them?
HN: The only thing I know about them is the preparation time we had when we had to come to Oxford and play them. I have a lot of respect for them. I can't wait to visit with them, get to know ‘em and looking forward to that.
Q: What type of timetable do you have for success and results here?
HN: Every day, every single day starting today, I want to win. I was a very fortunate victim of circumstance, because my father was a coach for 33 years at the Arkansas School for the Deaf. My mother was an English teacher. So the greatest lesson I had there is only one deaf school in each state. So my playground was with those deaf kids, and I don't know if you realize this but they had to leave home at the age of 4. There were native Americans, African Americans, white, Mexican, but if you could sign, if you could communicate, you were in their family. So those playgrounds, those were my lessons growing up. It taught me a valuable lesson that it didn't matter the color of your skin, as long as you were in their world and you could sign and communicate. It's about relationships. And so all I want to do is win starting every single day. The first priority is to get to know my players. The one thing I can assure you is that our players are going to play so hard, they're going to have so much fun. They're going to have enthusiasm. They're going to have passion. To me that's going to breed that winning. It's one day at a time. I don't put any timetable on anything except one step at a time, doing it the right way, the Ole Miss Rebel way, which is that somebody's watching you every single day. This may be that little fifth grader across the street, but they're watching you, the way you walk and talk, what kind of shadow you're going to be. So I expect them to win every day starting today.
Q: After 10 years of being a head coach in the SEC, what do you feel has been the missing ingredient at Ole Miss as far as getting to an SEC championship game, and what can you do to correct that?
HN: I don't know that because I spend one week out of the year in preparation. My whole focus was the job at hand, the task at hand. So I can't sit here and say this was a problem or that was a problem. I don't know that. The only thing I know is that the job that I had to do. Now I have a new job, new names, new players. And so I am focused on that, not what happens back here or in the past. I can't do anything about that. We're looking to the future. And I'm excited about it.
Q: Talk about your recruiting in Mississippi and any connections you have here?
HN: We've recruited Mississippi just a little bit but not much. Again we recruited Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana. So we'll probably concentrate on that very, very hard. Now that we're in the state of Mississippi you start here. You start at home. You always start at home first.
Q: You say you are looking to the future? Are you looking forward to next Oct. 25 and going to play at Arkansas?
HN: I'm looking forward to it. That's all I can say. I'm looking forward to it It's going to be good.
Q: This has all happened so quickly, take us through the timeline and when you came to this decision on Ole Miss.
HN: This thing happened very, very fast. Again we're just coming off a great victory Friday night, a great win against LSU, the No. 1 team in the country. So really I hadn't discussed this with the Chancellor, Sunday, Monday right in there. Most everything was done through Jimmy Sexton my agent, with the relationship with Pete Boone, it happened very, very fast. So it doesn't take long. It doesn't have to take long as a lot of people think when it comes to those type of things. So it was very, very fast. Happened fast. And Monday we thought it was the right thing, Dianna and I, our family, we had a lot of discussions about it. We've been there 10 years. In the SEC there have been 25 changes since I got there in 1998, maybe even 26 changes. So it's not easy being at one place 10 years. We had 10 great years there, but now we're looking forward to this year.
Q: Your teams tend to improve and play well late each season. You've won a lot of games late, a lot of close games, a lot of overtime games, some that have lasted what seems like three days. What do you attribute that success in those situation to?
HN: The No. 1 thing is we're in great condition. We can play a very long time at a very high level with high intensity. Our guys have been in great condition. We've got a great offseason program. We have a good fourth quarter program that starts right after signing date. That's always good. And I think this, I think there's a belief in that red zone. We practice that 25-yard line going in where, hey I don't know if y'all noticed this Friday, I don't know if they showed it on TV. But as soon as the overtime period began, I called all the guys up on the 50-yard line, and this is what we'll do. As soon as overtime starts, we'll call everybody up to the 50-yard line and the very first thing I'll tell ‘em is ‘This is why you play the game. We're going to win this time. We're going to win in this overtime.' So there's a confidence factor, a belief factor, because you've already been there. You've already practiced it. So when you get into that overtime, everybody starts cheering. Everybody goes to another level. There's more energy because you've been there. There's a confidence factor with your teammate, a band of brothers, we're fixing to get it done. And so that's just kind of the attitude we've always had. We've always finished strong in November, because in November, like Coach Broyles used to tell me, ‘They remember in November.'
Q: It must not have been the easiest of decisions to come to a school in the same division as you've been in for 10 years.
HN: Like I've mentioned, with a lot of discussion with Dianna and our family, it was time. It was time. We knew it in our heart that there needed to be change. We're very, very grateful for 10 years. But right now I can't tell you how refreshed that we are. There's a lot of energy going on right now. I can tell you when we walked in here on this stage, we went to another level. We knew in our heart that we made the right decision. I love SEC ball because it's the best athletes in the world. It's the best competition in the world. It's about that competitive spirit. There was as time when we were thinking maybe lay out of football for a year. But I couldn't do that. That probably lasted maybe three minutes. Couldn't do it. So I'm glad to be here.
Q: Did you consider other jobs, and are you concerned how this move within the division will be viewed by your Razorback family in Arkansas?
HN: No I'm not concerned about what other people think in Arkansas about our move that we made in our life right now. We're excited because we fell this is the best for us right now. I think it is best for Arkansas that we move at this time. There were a few jobs out there, but everything happened pretty fast and I was excited about Ole Miss when I got the call.
Q: It's a tradition at Arkansas to Call the Hogs. Have you learned Hotty Toddy yet?
HN: Hotty Toddy Gosh A Mighty! I gotta work on it a little bit, but I've been reading it.
Q: What do you do between now and the time your staff finishes the bowl game at Arkansas as far as recruiting?
HN: That's a good question. That's the most difficult time right now, when you do have coaches that are coaching in bowl preparation. What I have to do is organize the staff as best I can, the ones that are coming. I want to try to touch base and anazlyze a lot of these guys that have committed to Ole Miss and then guys that are still out there on the radar as far as recruiting. So there's a lot of organization things we have to do here in the next 72 hours to get that going. That's the toughest process, but the main thing again is for me the players on campus first. They're your real salesmen, they're your ambassadors, they're your heart and soul. All freshmen think they can come in and play, and there'll be a few that can. But most of them it's hard to take that jump from Friday night football to that next step. So you better start at home with these guys. Then we'll get really zeroed in on recruiting.
Q: Coach Frank Broyles has had an impact on your life and career. Did he have any impact on your decision to come to Ole Miss?
HN: Coach Broyles has been a true friend, one of my best friends, a great advisor and counselor. We've had a close relationship, a lot of long talks. And about Ole Miss when this thing did come up, I talked to him very hard about it, and he thought it was good. Coaching sometimes is a strange thing. Sometimes when you go from one school to another in your conference, it's a tough thing. But hey as long as you feel good in your hear, that's the main thing. Coaching is coaching You get so wrapped up in trying to make that difference in that 18, 19, 20 year old's life. You just look at the facilities, the academic part of it. You just feel like with the tradition that you can win at Ole Miss. So that's what I got real excited about.
Q: Has it ever struck you as awed that you are the highest earner at an education institution, even though you've got very little to do with academics?
HN: Wow. You know, I've never been asked that. That's a good question. My mother and father, the most they ever made as school teacher and coach was 30,000 dollars a year. So money's never really been a true factor. I'm very blessed, very thankful. We give a lot of our money away. We have four children that are in college. Tuition is going up. The fees are going up. Books are going up. So I'm going to need that.
Q: When was the last time you felt so appreciated somewhere as when you heard the applause today?
HN: Ten years ago, Dec. 10, 1997. That was a very good time. Right now. Today. Best day of my life right here today.
Houston Nutt press conference - part II
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