COMMENTARY: Boone Brings Back Excitement

Pete Boone was looking for a coaching hire that would reenergize the Ole Miss fan base. Within a span of ten seconds on Wednesday, the athletics director witnessed firsthand that he achieved his objective with rousing success.

Houston Nutt had barely emerged from behind the Ford Center curtains when a thunderous ovation filled the performing arts building. The standing room only crowd interrupted nearly every statement with an ovation and closed the ceremonial press conference with a Hotty Toddy by 1,500 strong.

On this day, Rebel nation is united.

Nutt exhibited his charisma and handled all questions with thoughtfulness and objectivity during the hour-long introduction. Arkansas reporters were on hand to discuss the situation he left with the Razorbacks, but the new Rebel coach made one thing clear.

He is an Ole Miss Rebel from this day forward.

That is good enough for those in red and blue. Nutt brings two trips to Atlanta and another co-championship with him to Oxford, and he said he believes Ole Miss can achieve great things under his watch.

One thing about Nutt is that you tend to believe him when he speaks. His ability to motivate those around him emanated during this first meeting. Nutt mixed realistic goals with intelligent candor and was smart to not say too much. It brings on an extra level of believability when wild expectations aren't conveyed before unpacking for the new gig.

Ed Orgeron left the Rebels with talent on both sides of the ball, but at noon on Wednesday, Nutt had yet to even meet the team. However, he believes Ole Miss can compete and win some games immediately, and for right now, those should be the ultimate goals.

After accommodating the media, Nutt held a team meeting and rallied his troops behind the message that an enjoyable atmosphere would be in place, but it would be a serious ambience at the same time. He wants the game to be fun and loose, and Nutt repeatedly said that fun is spelled W-I-N.

The proven head man should be able to limit or negate player defection because of the enthusiasm with which he speaks and the track record in tow. An equal mix of winning and responsibly enjoying college life is an opinion the Rebels can agree with.

"Everyone loves Coach Nutt so far," Tony Fein said. "It is a change of pace."

Change of pace?

Fein followed up: "Maybe a little more loose. Come on guys, you know what I mean. He was relaxed and took the jacket off. Different than what we are used to."

And different is good after four straight losing seasons. The team constantly used the word "refreshed" after the meeting with their leader. With players in college, sometimes getting them to believe in ideas is half the battle.

And I am sure there is more to be done, but every player that spoke to the media was excited and joking around. It was an obvious setting of Ole Miss' football members celebrating the new hire and not harping on the dismissal of the old regime.

"Very energy guy and laid back, my kind of guy," Peria Jerry said. "It is unexplainable how different the program is going to be. We are a better team than our record has shown. Man, it is hard to say, but I kind of figured there would have to be a change to turn the program around and win."

Whether the win total moves upward won't be decided until September, but the enthusiasm has skyrocketed thanks to Nutt entering the picture with his fervor and passion. The winning background he possesses doesn't hurt anything either.

Boone said Wednesday was the best day of his career because of the new hire. Nutt's record will ultimately decide that down the road, but at this point, it is the most important day.

In ten seconds, electricity and enthusiasm returned to the most visible sport at Mississippi's flagship university.

Thanks to Boone. Thanks to Nutt. And thanks to the fans for personifying the excitement.

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