Houston Nutt spoke passionately for over 20 minutes about his recent trip to Iraq to a gathering of 10 or so local media members.
It was a "life changing" experience for the Rebel mentor, which Ben will chronicle in a series of videos on our front page the next day or two of Nutt's talk.
When the subject turned to football, Houston had a few tidbits to share.
On the new SEC rule, which some are calling The Houston Nutt Rule, of only being able to sign 28 total players on signing day:
"I'm disappointed in it. The old rule states you have to be at 25 (scholarshipped signees) by August and we have made no promises to any kids we signed over the 25 we have not kept," Nutt said. "We have not disgruntled parents or anything like that. I don't understand why they are making that rule now.
"I know the 38 we signed is a big number, but we did it for a reason. We knew that 8 or 9 of them were going to go to junior college and us signing them gives them a home and some incentive to get finished in JUCO in two years.
"We didn't break a rule - I want to make that clear."
At the SEC meetings in Destin, Nutt spoke to Commissioner Mike Slive about the situation.
"I told him that the issue we have these days is that we don't know for sure when kids say they are coming to Ole Miss if they are really going to do that," he continued. "We have a good idea, but we don't know for sure. These days, you have soft commitments and light commitments and kids who commit and then open their recruiting back up. We have kids who commit and visit other schools. There is too much uncertainty in recruiting now and you have to keep recruiting throughout the process, right up to signing day.
"The word commitment has been watered down so much in recruiting. What does soft commitment mean? Really - it irks me. It's a different world and that's why I wanted to keep some leeway. The coaches voted for the signing number to be 30. That's a good round number if they want to control it some, but then the vote from the ADs was for 28. There's nothing I can do about it now. It's a rule and we will work with it, but I don't agree with it."
Nutt is an advocate of having a joint meeting at the SEC summer meetings in Destin between the Chancellors, ADs and coaches all in the same room to discuss issues like this. That does not happen now. All meetings are separate.
"We should have one meeting in a big room with all of us discussing the issues so everyone involved can hear every side," he stated, "but that does not happen. The issue of the signing number should have been discussed among everyone. I wanted to tell everyone the reasons we signed 38 kids and why it's a good idea to keep the number higher than 28, but we don't get that opportunity."
On the status of Jamar Hornsby:
"We don't know anything new about his legal status, but we'd like to get him in here the second semester of summer school to get to know him better," Nutt said. "That is what I'd like to do with Jamar - see him interact with the players, go to class, lift weights and see how he does - but I'm not sure yet if that will be done or not."
On the true freshmen in first semester summer school:
"We have (OL) Mike Thomas, (LB) D.T. Shackelford, (RB)Tim Simon and (OL) Michael Brown here now," he answered.
On the eligibility of the signees, particularly Bobbie Massie and Tig Barksdale:
"Bobbie has work to do, but after talking to him about 30 minutes ago, I feel a whole lot better. I think he is going to be alright," Nutt said. "It's not done yet, but he's focused and ready to get it done. He's got to take two classes and get those grades in to get eligible, but I believe he will.
"Tig is in the same position as Bobbie and I feel more confident about him now than I did a month ago. He has a legitimate chance to be eligible.
"I think our numbers are right on track. We are sitting on 26 right now and we have four or five who are borderline. That's one reason, too, we signed so many - to make sure we'd have 25 eligible by August."
Football notes -
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