The following is a transcript of a mini-press conference with Ole Miss Football Coach Houston Nutt.
Q: Talk about your staff a little.
Nutt: The first thing you see is they are class guys, but I am partial. I know them all very well and they love what they do. They love making a difference to an 18, 19, 20 year old. They are professionals. I am very excited they are here. It was kind of lonely here without them. Anyone who runs an organization will tell you that if you go without your co-workers for a few days you will know how much you miss them and how much you appreciate their work. I now know that feeling. It's a good feeling being in that room and putting names on the board and evaluating kids. We are having our first recruiting weekend this weekend. Then we'll go full speed from there hitting the road.
Q: How has the chemistry in the coaching staff played out to this point?
Nutt: We are very close and most of us have worked together before, with the exception of a couple of guys. We are tight and I think our players will feel that.
Q: Discuss your relationship with OL Coach Mike Markuson, who has been with you 15 years.
Nutt: We go way back. he was a GA when I was a coach at Oklahoma State. I knew he was going to be a great coach then. He's a great teacher and a very fundamental football coach. He's very good in run and pass blocking. He loves his work, is very dedicated and is a very solid person.
Q: What is it about him that has allowed you two to stay together so long?
Nutt: We have a real bond and believe in the same things. We believe in a strong run game, play action passing, creating balance, mixing up formations, spreading the field. He's the core, the base. He understands blocking. Everywhere he's been you see a trend - the trend is that his players get better. They have a mindset of getting it done and that is a direct extension to their coach.
Q: What about the offensive coordinator search?
Nutt: I thought you might ask that and I am prepared. (laughs) We're just taking our time. We had Hugh Freeze in and he did an excellent job. I knew him at the high school level. He's a very good person and did a very good job in his interview. I had Kent Austin, a former player here, in and he did a terrific job too. I have a couple of more people we are talking to. I am not going to put a timetable on it. It's about chemistry. You can't fool a kid. When the parents are fighting, they know it. So we want to keep the family very close - chemistry is important. But along the same lines, I want a very good quarterback coach. He has to be a very good teacher and someone who can bring something new to the table. We have a core of ideas we want to do, but that person needs to be able to bring some things of his own to the table in the passing game or wherever. It's tough right now with a recruiting weekend on top of us and the returning players slipping in. They are peeking around the corner trying to get to know their new coaches. I am not in a hurry and there is no reason to be in a hurry. If you will be patient, I'll keep you up to date.
Q: What about bringing in someone you haven't worked with and the chemistry angle from that perspective?
Nutt: That's where background work comes in. It doesn't take long to realize if they fit or not. Where did you come from? What have you done? What do you believe in? How do you teach fundamentals? What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish? All those things have to be answered.
Q: Do you have recruits who are waiting to see who you will hire as an OC?
Nutt: Some, but the main position would be the quarterbacks. I'm sure they are very anxious to see who's going to be coaching them and what we are going to do, but I can tell you right now what we are going to do. We are going to be a good running team with play action. A team with balance. A team that is going to mix in screens, draws, slip screens, spread and stretch the field. We will not stray far from that, but we also want some new ideas and we want someone who is real good in the box on game day.
Q: Do you have anyone else set up to interview?
Nutt: No, but by mid-week next week we will add one more, I think. I think ya'll know who I'm thinking about. Sometimes it seems you know before I do. (laughs) But I'd rather not say right now.
Q: Talk about what drew you to DC Tyrone Nix.
Nutt: I tried to hire him when John Thompson left Arkansas for Florida. Watching him from afar - I loved the passion his teams played with. They run to the ball. They are fundamentally sound. We played against him and his defenses have always been tough and physical. It's hard to generate much against a Tyrone Nix defense.
Q: What about Derrick Nix?
Nutt: I think it's huge to be able to sit in a living room of a recruit and be able to say "he coached RBs for the Atlanta falcons." Let's admit it - they all think they are going to the NFL. Derrick is a guy who gives you an instant advantage. He can say "I can get you there. I played TB in college and I coached it in the pros." That's a huge advantage in recruiting. And it's the same with Tracy Rocker. Played in the SEC, Outland Trophy winner, Lombardi winner, played in the NFL. He knows how it feels to put his hand down on the ground in the trenches. There is nothing a player can say or do that he hasn't experienced. It's simple to sell a guy like Tracy Rocker.
Q: Were you worried about losing Tracy and Markuson in the transition?
Nutt: Actually, ya'll worried me more than they did by calling me and telling me Tracy was going to Texas A&M and Mike was going somewhere else. When you have good coaches, they are going to come after you. Bill Parcells knows how much David Lee helped Tony Romo get to the Pro Bowl. He knows how far he's taken QBs. I knew there was a chance to lose some guys, but when they are quality coaches, people come after them and that's what you want. Tyrone is the same way. Kim Dameron has been a coordinator. We have several outstanding coaches who are good recruiters who are going to be in demand, and that's what you want. You just want to hold them as long as you can.
Q: James Shibest is a guy who has been with you a long time too. . .
Nutt: James is another awesome guy. He's been our TE guy and ST guy. He's solid and has a lot of experience recruiting Texas and JUCOs, which is big to our staff. He brings a lot of energy to our staff. My brother played with him at Arkansas and we go way back. He's a good, solid guy.
Q: What did it mean to have Ron Dickerson and Dameron here with you here while the others were still in Arkansas or elsewhere?
Nutt: I couldn't have made it without those two, the two GAs - Joel Rodriguez and Brad Villavaso - and Kent McLeod when he was here. If Kim and Ron had not been here with me during that time, I don't really know, but I think we would have been way behind in recruiting. They held it up - the five of us. Was it as good as it could be? No, but at least we held it together. I think you will see a big turn, a big push in the next week or so. Now they can put a face to the name when we go in their homes. Transition is hard. There were lots of rumors that we were losing this guy and that guy, and maybe we were falling behind, but we were gaining some others and once we get in a living room, we will catch back up with the ones we lost ground with. Naturally we are playing catchup, but we will make a lot of ground up in the living rooms of these young men.
Q: What about NFL declare day and Michael Oher's status?
Nutt: I have been talking to Michael and recruiting him hard. I have also been recruiting Ashlee Palmer hard. What I am telling them, if you are not in the first round or top of the second round, you should come back and I am discussing that with their families. If you are first round, go. I told Darren McFadden and others that. First round? You gotta go. Hard to turn down that kind of money. Chance of a lifetime. If not, come back and develop more.
Brief media opp with Houston
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