Commentary:

Ole Miss should have known not to test Nutt

By: Nate Olson
Published: Friday, July 14, 2017
In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, photo, Mississippi coach Houston Nutt casts a glance at the stadium video screen after a series of plays against No. 2 Alabama in an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photo/Austin McAfee)
In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, photo, Mississippi coach Houston Nutt casts a glance at the stadium video screen after a series of plays against No. 2 Alabama in an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photo/Austin McAfee)

Arkansas fans actually cheered for Houston Nutt this week, albeit some apologetically, after Nutt used cell phone records to exact revenge against Ole Miss.

That goes a long way toward spicing up the dog days of summer.

Nutt and his legal team filed a lawsuit against Ole Miss for alleging Nutt was to blame for most of the NCAA rules violations facing the Rebels. Ole Miss was in spin mode days before the 2016 national signing day when allegations were revealed. The Ole Miss athletics department threw Nutt under the bus, alleging he and his staff were responsible for the most serious accusations.

However, more accusations surfaced and Ole Miss has since self-imposed sanctions despite vehemently defending Hugh Freeze, who replaced Nutt in 2011.

Ole Miss is in big trouble and backpedaling like a third-team defensive back. The bait and switch it tried with Nutt backfired terribly and now there’s a good chance Ole Miss will have to pay him a large sum of money, in addition to the millions the school already has paid him not to coach there.

Egg, meet face.

Nutt and his legal team went into Colombo mode obtaining Freeze’s phone records to prove that Freeze made calls to Ole Miss beat reporters to leak the Nutt information. It is assumed Nutt had several of those reporters’ numbers in his contact list so he could prove who Freeze actually called.

The latest development in the Ole Miss scandal is juicy for Arkansas fans and their favorite villain. Many Arkansas fans have loved to hate Nutt since he began falling out of favor late in his 10-year tenure with the Razorbacks.

Near the end, an obsessed group of fans actually acquired his phone records on a witch hunt to bring him down. There were full-page ads in the state newspaper condemning him and planes flying banners at games.

There hasn’t been a coach at Arkansas despised as much, in varying degrees, among the fan base.

More than 10 years removed from his departure for Ole Miss, the mood toward Nutt has tempered. Nutt still has his supporters, especially in his hometown of Little Rock, and has made more and more appearances in his home state. As they say, time heals all wounds.

After this week’s suit, he may have ingratiated himself with more in Arkansas. The information not only could prove Ole Miss lied about Nutt’s involvement and lead to another payday, but it could lead to more trouble for the Rebels.

That is good news for every other team in the SEC West.

You can’t blame Nutt for being upset when he heard of the allegations. Apparently, people from all around the country, including his mother, contacted him after reading about the alleged wrongdoing in 2016. It ticked him off. After all, of all the things Nutt was at Arkansas, he wasn’t a cheater, or at least no charges were ever levied.

It appeared Nutt ran a clean program. Was it without controversy? No. Did he handle everything appropriately? No. But nothing was ever as serious as what is accused at Ole Miss.

If Nutt does win this showdown with Ole Miss, it adds to a list of inexplicably charmed events that most coaches can only dream of in a career. Among them:

-He landed a major head coaching job after one losing season at a mid-major program.

-He received a large payout from Arkansas so he could coach at a rival school in the same conference.

-He received another large buyout not to coach a second SEC team.

Nutt wins more than he loses (he was 7-3 vs. the Rebels) and finds his way out of difficult situations. Ole Miss leaders should have considered that before they sacrificed him.

Nate Olson is a contributor to WholeHogSports

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