HOOVER, Ala. — For the 11th consecutive year, Houston Nutt was introduced as a coach at SEC Media Days.
For the first time, however, he took the podium behind an Ole Miss helmet.
After guiding Arkansas the last decade to a 75-48 record and to two trips to the league title game, Nutt changed Western Division locations last November. His final game with the Razorbacks was a 50-48, triple-overtime win at eventual national champion LSU, which capped a year that was too turbulent for Nutt to repeat.
Allegations of an extramarital affair and the transferring of touted quarterback Mitch Mustain haunted Nutt during his final months at Arkansas, but there was nothing haunting about his Rebels introduction at Oxford’s Ford Theater.
“I really thought the press conference was going to be basically a room full of just print media,” Nutt said Thursday. “To walk in the Ford Theater and have 1,500 people and then later find out that 500 or 600 people were turned away — I can’t tell you how we felt that day. That was a day full of goose bumps, and it just re-energized us from that moment forward.”
Video courtesy of the Southeastern Conference: SEC Media Days
Nutt will need his energy at Ole Miss, which is the only West program yet to play for the league title and is coming off an 0-8 SEC season. The Rebels last went to a bowl in 2003, Eli Manning’s senior season as quarterback, but Nutt believes he has one of the eight or nine teams that can win the league.
He praised predecessor Ed Orgeron as a solid recruiter for leaving him with offensive lineman Michael Oher, defensive linemen Greg Hardy and Peria Jerry and veteran receivers led by Shay Hodge and Mike Wallace. There is promise at quarterback with Texas transfer Jevan Snead and at tailback with signee Enrique Davis, but Nutt admitted there are holes.