5 Thoughts, Sept. 19
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Sallee: Houston Nutt has to got
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By Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee
The “hot seat” is a term that gets throw around during the offseason to give fans something to talk about while there is no college football. This past offseason, you saw names like Mark Richt and Rick Neuheisel at or near the top of nearly everyone’s list. One name, however, was not as prominent. But, three games into the season, this coach may be on the hottest seat of all.
There’s no excuse for getting blown out 30-7 by Vanderbilt. None. Not the five turnovers committed by the Rebels. Not the rash of early-season injuries. Not the fact that Vanderbilt may be a little bit better than we all anticipated. None.
Competent SEC programs should be able to trot out backups and still compete with Vanderbilt’s starters. Ole Miss is not a competent football program anymore, and Houston Nutt is to blame.
Just 13 months ago, Nutt was coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons in Oxford and looking to continue that momentum despite massive roster turnover. As it turns out, that massive roster turnover is exactly why he achieved a moderate level of success in Oxford to begin with. He won with Ed Orgeron’s players, plain and simple. Now those players are gone.
What’s left is a program that has taken about five steps back in a division - the SEC West - where you can barely afford one. Ole Miss was almost universally picked to finish last in the SEC West before the season by the SEC media, and that was assuming that they stayed healthy. Now they’re not, and the program is in shambles. The injuries aren’t an excuse. The fact that there’s no depth is a poor reflection of the coaching staff.
Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone is the same guy that fired former Rebel head coach David Cutcliffe after his only losing season, which was one year after a 10-win season. At the time, Boone wanted Cutcliffe to fire some assistants and create a detailed plan to get the program going in the right direction.
So let me ask this of Pete Boone: if the program was going in the wrong direction then, what’s the problem NOW? The 4-8 record last season certainly didn’t sit well with the higher-ups in Oxford, and with another 4-8 staring the program in the face, a blowout loss to Vanderbilt should be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Strangely, it won’t.
Yes, Nutt has a pretty substantial buyout that would call for the University to owe him somewhere in the neighborhood of $4-6 million dollars should he be dismissed early. After getting run by Vandy, how many of you think that Boone could pass a hat around The Grove and get that amount? I do.
When Cutcliffe was let go following the 2004 season, the University was heavily criticized for having an overinflated sense of self worth. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m sure that Cutcliffe would like to know where those standards went, because they certainly aren’t there now.
Ole Miss hosts Georgia and then travels to Fresno State the next two weekends before the bye week. If the Rebs lose both of those games - and let’s face it, that’s almost a certainty at this point - does Nutt survive the bye week? He shouldn’t.
But then again, the bye week does have a good defense.