I'm not questioning Nutt's ethics because he seems like a decent guy. And I'm certainly not questioning the geniuses at Ole Miss who fired David Cutcliffe three years ago because they thought Orgeron would do a better job. Still, the fact Nutt resigned as head man at Fayetteville mere hours before becoming head man at Oxford suggests two factors were in play:
1. Ole Miss knew it had Nutt locked up before it fired Orgeron.
2. Nutt knew he had the Ole Miss job locked up before he resigned.
If this was the case, that might constitute tampering. As far as I know, SEC brass never investigated this and, frankly, I don't blame them. Arkansas got rid of a coach whose popularity had waned and Ole Miss added a coach who provides an instant upgrade. If you're the league office, why investigate a situation where everybody came out a winner?
There are indications that a similar behind-the-scenes courtship was going on at LSU last week. The departure of head man Les Miles to take the same job at Michigan was the worst-kept secret in America. Fans in Ann Arbor adopted the slogan, "We need a new Carr with Les Miles."
With Miles having one foot out the door, Alabama head coach Nick Saban reportedly was seen at a Baton Rouge barber shop. You don't need the IQ of an Ole Miss administrator to realize that the $4 Million Man stopped by to speak with school officials about replacing Miles, who had replaced him as top Tiger just three years earlier. Either that, or Saint Nick is willing to travel 284 miles to get his hair trimmed just right.
Of course, the Miles-to-Michigan move fell through when LSU came up with a big raise and contract extension, leaving Les in Baton Rouge and Nick in Tuscaloosa ... for now, at least.
Miles to Michigan and Saban to LSU weren't the only hot rumors on the SEC coaching circuit, though. If LSU couldn't pry Saban away from Bama, the Tigers' next option reportedly was South Carolina's Steve Spurrier. Meanwhile, there were reports that Arkansas was looking at Auburn's Tommy Tuberville as a possible successor to Nutt.
For a few days late last week the SEC was Scuttlebutt Central: Nutt to Ole Miss ... Miles to Michigan ... Saban or Spurrier to LSU ... Tuberville to Arkansas. It appeared that one-fourth of the SEC programs might have new head men for 2008 without any new coaches coming into the league.
Things have settled down this week, of course. Tuberville isn't going anywhere; he got a raise and extension at Auburn. Spurrier seems locked in at Columbia until the next hot rumor pops up. Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer got to the SEC Championship Game and off the hot seat with a strong November. Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom also escaped the hot seat by virtue of a late-season rally.
For the moment, the SEC Coaching Carousel has stopped, with Arkansas's search for Nutt's successor being the only on-going plot line. That's likely to change soon, however. Things never stay too quiet for too long in this league.
Southeastern Conference football ... you gotta love it.