Houston Nutt is an old pro at this type of thing, holding babies in one hand while using the other to scribble his signature with a blue Sharpie pen on a poster board.
The new Ole Miss football coach shook hands on Tuesday night. He posed for pictures. His right hand never cramped and his smile didn’t fade even though the serpentine line of red and blue autograph seekers never shrank for the better part of an hour.
In short, he was at ease.
So were the Ole Miss faithful.
And that’s exactly what makes Rebels football fan Billy Hall grin while he sips on his drink, dreaming of the victories that surely should come now that the veteran Southeastern Conference coach has migrated from Fayetteville to Oxford.
“I think we like him so much because we feel like we know him already,” Hall said. “We’ve watched him win games at Arkansas. We’ve watched the way he handles the SEC.
“Quite honestly, I think he’s the best football coach we’ve had since John Vaught was on the field.”
And that was just one instance of the high hopes that flowed freely as Nutt addressed 1,500 fans at Mississippi Trade Mart for the annual Rebel Reunion – all of whom were eager to soak up some good vibes after four straight losing seasons.