Nutt a believer in hurry-up now

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, September 4, 2014
Former Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt speaks during a meeting of the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club Wednesday, Sept 3, 2014, at Mermaids restaurant in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Former Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt speaks during a meeting of the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club Wednesday, Sept 3, 2014, at Mermaids restaurant in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Houston Nutt said he is hoping to get another college football head coaching job, and if it happens he wants to run a hurry-up offense.

Nutt, the former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach, offered that revelation Wednesday when he spoke at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club.

As an SEC coach, Nutt was known for an offense designed to control the ball and the clock through a strong running game.

Gus Malzahn wanted to install a hurry-up offense when he became Arkansas' offensive coordinator in 2006, but Nutt resisted and the Razorbacks won the SEC West title behind tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

Houston Nutt - NWA TD Club

Former Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt speaks to the media following Wednesday's NWA Touchdown Club meeting. (By Andrew Hutchinson)
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After the season Malzahn, now Auburn's coach, left Arkansas to be Tulsa's offensive coordinator.

Nutt said Wednesday that while he still wants to be a physically tough team that can run the ball and stop the run, studying teams like Auburn, Baylor, Oregon and Texas A&M has made him see the advantage of a hurry-up offense.

As a studio analyst for the CBS Sports Network since 2012, Nutt has been able to study a lot of teams and the latest trends in college football.

"Games aren't played in a phone booth anymore," Nutt said. "They're from sideline to sideline."

Nutt said he sees the pluses in wearing down a defense.

"Up-tempo, to me, gives you an advantage of, 'Hmm, wow, I've got to get lined back up. I've got to get back and get lined up again, and here they come again,' " he said. "You see the defenses really struggling because they're having to tackle good athletes out in space."

Nutt said he isn't surprised that he's become a convert to the hurry-up offense.

"In junior high school, I ran the Wishbone," he said. "The game changes, and you've just got to stay up with it."

Nutt interviewed Malzahn for CBS during Auburn's preseason practice.

"Gus and I actually did get along," Nutt said. "I went down there and they treated me great. We had a good interview."

When Auburn won the SEC championship and lost to Florida State 34-31 in the national title game last season, the Tigers averaged 328.2 rushing yards to lead the nation.

"They led the world in rushing last year, but now they've got weapons on the outside," Nutt said, referring to Auburn receivers Duke Williams and Sammie Coates.

Auburn gained 595 yards in total offense in beating Arkansas 45-21 last week as Williams caught 9 passes for 154 yards and 1 touchdown and Cameron Artis-Payne rushed 26 times for 177 yards and 1 touchdown and Corney Grant rushed 10 times for 87 yards and 1 touchdown.

"That's why you've got to give it to Auburn," Nutt said of the Tigers' balance.

Nutt said he believes Arkansas -- which has lost 13 consecutive SEC games -- can have sustained success under Coach Bret Bielema and his physical running offense, but that Bielema and his assistants need time to recruit. Last season Bielema became the Razorbacks' third coach in three seasons after Bobby Petrino's firing and John L. Smith's interim stint.

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"It's those recruiting classes back to back to back to back," Nutt said. "The best in-state guys, keep them here and then just keep developing."

Asked about how much tougher it is to win with Bielema's style, Nutt said there many ways to win games.

The Razorbacks were tied with Auburn 21-21 after the first half last week.

"Everybody has their own philosophy," Nutt said. "If you look at last week's first half, you'd say there's nothing wrong with that offense. But you've got to finish. You've got to find a way to get the third and fourth quarters right.

"The sad thing about this conference is, man, there's just no off Saturdays. It's great football."

Nutt said while he enjoys working for CBS Sports and SiriusXM Radio, he misses coaching. He had a 135-96 record in 19 seasons as a head coach at Murray State, Boise State, Arkansas and Ole Miss, including 75-48 in 10 seasons with the Razorbacks from 1998-2007.

"I'd love to have one more opportunity, but I don't know," Nutt said. "It doesn't have to be in the SEC, but I miss coaching. I miss the relationships. I miss that Saturday where you're fighting and competing. I miss the celebration in the locker room.

"I miss all of that."

Sports on 09/04/2014