Nutt right at home at Media Days

HOOVER, Ala. – Houston Nutt stood in a familiar spot behind the podium at SEC Media Days here Thursday. Everything appeared to be just like the last 10 years.

But it wasn't. For those 10 years he represented the Arkansas Razorbacks. This year the Oklahoma State graduate was speaking as head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels.

There are always major storylines at this gathering. Certainly Nutt was one of them this time around.

"This was a good move for us," Nutt said of relocating a bit to the southeast but remaining in the SEC West. "It actually feels like I've been here a long time. I realize we haven't even played a game yet."

Or coached one as the Rebels' head man. Unlike the past three head coaches who came here for their first Media Days, this event isn't the only place he feels right at home.

Tommy Tuberville, David Cutcliffe, and Ed Orgeron all moved up from the assistant coaching ranks to lead the Rebs into battle. Nutt was head coach at Murray State and Boise State in addition to Arkansas before arriving in Oxford.

It's more of what Ole Miss fans have found to be the case at alumni meetings this summer. It's what the players found out when he first met with them last December.

The guy has been through all this many times. And he's been successful.

From room to room he went today – from the print media room to the various TV rooms to the radio and internet room. The questions were many and varied.

Did he have any advice for new head hog-caller Bobby Petrino, he was asked in one of the TV rooms.

"No," he said, without adding much for a moment.

He then mentioned he obviously knew Petrino had been successful at Louisville, and their paths had crossed when Nutt was head coach at Boise State and Petrino was an assistant at Utah State.

He was asked if Jerrell Powe would play, and his answer was brief.

"I hope so. I don't know. We're still waiting, just like y'all."

He was asked about Jevan Snead. His eyes lit up with that one. He appeared to love telling those gathered about his first starting quarterback at Ole Miss.

Things like intelligent, good decision-maker, good leader, accurate, hard worker, confident.

He was asked about recruiting, specifically how different it is with more competition for instate talent than what he faced at Arkansas, and if MSU's success on the field last season made the going tougher.

"The one thing I love about Mississippi, I think there were 69, 70, 71 guys that signed Division I (scholarships) in the state of Mississippi, junior college and high school," he said. "I'm excited about where we are, where we're located, how close we are to Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, plus we've got Mississippi. So I know we're going to find 25 good athletes, student athletes, every year who want to come to Ole Miss. There's no question in my mind."

He mentioned closing strong last February after he and his staff had only been on the job a short time.

He was asked if what he found at Ole Miss in terms of talent was similar to what he found at Arkansas when he arrived there in 1998 to lead the Hogs. The Razorbacks had gone 4-7 and 4-7 the previous two seasons.

He seemed to prefer not to evaluate and compare the talent levels but to talk about the attitude of the players.

"You come in and try to change a mindset that won't accept losing," he said, fist clinched, teeth gritted slightly, with a seriousness about him.

It's as if he won't tolerate anything but positive.

"There's a whole lot more to it than just those 60 minutes that you have to execute," he said.

Of course Ole Miss fans know all too well that sometimes Nutt's teams play longer than 60 minutes. Laughter followed a serious question asked by one reporter.

Would he change anything about overtime in college football, Nutt was asked.

"I wouldn't change a thing," Nutt said. "I like it just the way it is."

Changing addresses last December was quite a different story.

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