Tag:Houston Nutt
Posted on: March 30, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Ole Miss to unretire Chucky Mullins' No. 38

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Jersey No. 38 hasn't been worn at Ole Miss since 2006, and with good reason: it's the retired number worn by the late Chucky Mullins, the Rebel defender who was paralyzed in a 1989 Homecoming game. It's one of only two numbers to be retired at Ole Miss, the other belonging to Rebel uber-legend Archie Manning.

But Ole Miss announced yesterday that as part of an effort to honor Mullins' memory, the No. 38 will be making an emotional return to the field:

Bestowed on a rising senior defensive player each spring, the Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner had worn the late Mullins' No. 38 jersey from 1990 until 2006, when the M-Club Alumni Chapter passed a resolution for the retirement of the number ...

The M-Club's new resolution supports the decision for the No. 38 to remain retired and be worn only by the Chucky Mullins Courage Award recipient each year.

"It's important that the standard of courage and spirit that Chucky represents remains at the forefront of Ole Miss Football, for our players and our fans," said Ole Miss Director of Athletics Pete Boone. "Retiring Chucky's number was the ultimate way to honor his memory. However, we miss that constant reminder of his legacy that we had with the No. 38 on the field every Saturday. It should be a living number that is with us everyday, and I'm grateful for the former award winners who led the charge to bring it back."

"The Chucky Mullins Courage Award is one of the great honors in college football and is a special part of Ole Miss," said Rebel head coach Houston Nutt. "I'm excited to see 38 back on the field and know that others will be reminded of what Chucky stood for every time the Rebels play."

As for who'll wear it in 2011, the Mullins Courage Award winner will be announced at a team banquet April 14--an award that thanks to the jersey number that goes with it will carry even more honor this season (and for many seasons to come) than it already does.

Posted on: March 28, 2011 3:14 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Ole Miss

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice  . So we here at the Eye on College Football    will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers   . Today, we look at Ole Miss , which starts spring practice today.

Spring Practice Question: Can the Ole Miss defense be rebuilt?

As the local Clarion-Ledger pointed out today , the headline story regarding Houston Nutt's fourth spring camp at the Rebel helm will undoubtedly be the quarterback derby. Following Jeremiah Masoli's single-season cameo, four different quarterbacks are battling it out under new Rebel offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach David Lee: pocket passers Nathan Stanley (Masoli's backup in 2010 and the narrow favorite) and JUCO transfer Zack Stoudt, and dual-threat QBs Randall Mackey and Barry Brunetti. (Brunetti, a transfer from West Virginia, will need a hardship waiver from the NCAA in order to avoid sitting out his transfer year this fall.) Lee swears any of the four could be named the Rebel starter this fall, and given how little experience any of the four enters the competition with, he's likely not exaggerating.

But as intriguing as the quarterback battle promises to be, what's most important for the Rebels' chances this fall is what will happen on the other side of the ball. While the occasionally-rocky transition to Masoli drew plenty of attention, in the end the Rebels finished a respectable 43rd in total offense. But despite the presence of eight senior starters to begin the season, Ole Miss finished a disastrous 105th in the country in yards per-play allowed, worst in the SEC. It's fair to say the Rebels weren't paying defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix one of the nation's highest assistant salaries to watch the team lose games in which they scored 24, 31, 36 or -- in the case of their infamous season-opening embarrassment against FCS Jacksonville State -- 48 points.

Nix has survived to try and clean up his own mess, but it's not clear if he has the tools with which to do it. As you might expect from that "eight senior starters" detail, the Rebels' defensive losses are major; gone are All-SEC tackle Jerrell Powe, explosive defensive end Kentrell Lockett, leading tackler and tackler-for-loss linebacker Jonathan Cornell, a pair of senior safeties, assorted other contributors at tackle, corner, and linebacker ... Nix won't be starting from scratch, but scratch and the point he'll start from won't be more than a stone's throw apart.

There is good news for the Ole Miss defense, though, and it's two-fold:

1. Obviously, all of those seniors didn't do a whole lot for the Rebels in 2010. While there's no good way to spin the losses of players like Powe and Cornell, as a unit Ole Miss really can't get a whole lot worse than they were last season. In many cases, the new blood may prove to be a better option than the old blood was anyway.

2. Thanks to some impressive recruiting hauls (particularly by Ole Miss standards) by Nutt and his staff, the talent cupboard is far from bare. Nix won't have a lot in the way of experience to work with, but the raw material with which a good defense could be constructed should be there.

That's especially true in the front seven, where Nix will call on junior linebacker D.T. Shackelford to spearhead the rush defense after Shackelford recorded 9 tackles-for-loss a year ago and continued to flash the kind of big-hitting potential that made him one of Nutt's most prized recruits in the class of 2009. Junior weakside linebacker Joel Kight should also be ready for a big season after winning a starting job in last year's fall camp, making the LBs a strength. If Nix can find any tackles following the loss of the entire rotation from a year ago -- expect 310-pound JUCO arrival Gilbert Pena to get a long look -- the line shouldn't be too shabby, either, given the presence of high-ceiling ends like senior Wayne Dorsey, junior Gerald Rivers and sophomore Cameron Whigham. (If Lockett receives a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, things will look even better this fall.)

The biggest question mark is in the secondary, which a year ago was roasted to the tune of 8.4 yards per passing attempt and a 6-to-24 interception-to-touchdown ratio, both easily the worst marks in the SEC. Up to nine players will compete for the four starting spots (though returning starting corner Marcus Temple is out with a sports hernia), but are any of them SEC caliber? Nix will have to hope so, with the most likely candidates senior safety Damien Jackson and sophomore safety Brishen Matthews.

No one would argue the quarterback battle isn't critical. But with what should be one of the SEC's best offensive lines (one with all five starters returning), rugged running back Branden Bolden, several big-play receivers, and Nutt and Lee's combined offensive acumen, the Rebels should have a functional attack no matter who winds up taking snaps.

The same simply can't be said of the Rebel defense--meaning that even if the QB competition grabs the headlines, it's a sure bet it's the battles on the other side of the ball that will have a huge, huge share of the coaches' attention. If Nix can't find the players this spring that will push his unit forward this fall, the Rebels are going to almost certainly spend a second season in the cellar of the SEC West.

Posted on: March 1, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Spurrier: oversigning a "ticklish situation"

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Offseason of Oversigning continued to make headlines last week when a pair of South Carolina recruits publicly admitted they were told less than 24 hours before Signing Day that the Gamecocks would not have room in their 2011 class for them. (Though academic concerns may have played a role in Steve Spurrier and his staff's decision, other Gamecock recruits with similarly uncertain grade issues were not asked to grayshirt.)

Thanks in part to the timing of that story, it seems, the Wall Street Journal has also turned its attention to oversigning . In this piece , published yesterday, SEC head coaches Spurrier, Houston Nutt, and Bobby Petrino each defend their team's having signed more players than permitted by the NCAA's 25-players-per-class or 85-players-on-scholarship limits.

Petrino said he signed according to a formula that took players' academic standing into account and included players with "absolutely no chance" of qualifying; on oversigning in general, he said he doesn't "see it as a bad thing unless you're being dishonest or waiting until the last minute." Similarly, Nutt said he had never waited until the last minute to tell a recruit "oh by the way you don't have a scholarship." (This might be news to receiver Collins Moore, who Nutt told a week before Signing Day he didn't have a scholarship at Ole Miss, at least not until 2012.)

But the most interesting quotes of all belonged to the "Ol' Ball Coach," who criticized the Big Ten for not oversigning ("I think that really hurts them a lot"), said that initial problem with the two potentially grayshirted recruits was that more prospects had chosen the Gamecocks than had been expected, and that they'd been chosen because they were the two commitments with the most work to do academically. Most intriguing of all, Spurrier admitted he could have handled the "situation" more smoothly:
"What we probably could've done earlier in the recruiting is tell them that this could happen," he said. "But then again, we didn't know it was going to come up. It's a ticklish situation."
"Ticklish" or not, the coach of one of those players clearly isn't happy with the Gamecocks over their approach:
[Jordan] Montgomery's high school coach, Walter Banks , said, "I told them this was foul. I didn't have a clue until 18 hours before signing day, and if they say anything else, they're lying."
To be fair to Spurrier and the other coaches, the story's bevy of quotes from recruits (and their parents) makes it clear that oversigning isn't a particularly big concern on their end (though that also seems to stem from the abundant self-belief that they won't be the ones in danger should the roster ax end up swinging). And with at least one of the two Carolina recruits (and possibly both) still planning on enrolling in Columbia once they can, it's safe to say the parties most immediately affected don't see Spurrier's actions as -- to quote Florida president and grayshirting critic Bernie Machen -- "morally reprehensible."

But whether it's an issue to recruits or not, whether Spurrier and the other SEC coaches defend it or not, the assault on oversigning from power brokers like Machen and Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity mean legislative change on oversigning could be coming all the same. (Maybe as soon as this year's annual SEC meetings , if Mike Slive is to be believed.) And until/unless that change happens, Spurrier and the rest of the SEC can't expect the negative attention from outlets like the Journal to simply go away.
Posted on: February 15, 2011 10:40 am
Edited on: February 15, 2011 11:04 am
 

Nutt on oversigning: 'I've never ran anyone off'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When asked about signing a whopping 38 players in his 2009 recruiting class -- all-but singlehandedly embarrassing the rest of the SEC into adopting a limit of 28 in all future classes, the rule that now informally carries his name -- Houston Nutt famously (or infamously) joked that "there’s no rule that says that we can’t sign 80." But when asked over the weekend about the number of signees in his current class, and what that might have meant for the newly-departed players from the Rebel roster, Nutt wasn't in a laughing mood.

As reported by Kyle Veazey of the Clarion-Ledger , several observers (including Eye on College Football ) looked at Nutt inking several more players on Signing Day than he appeared to have room for under the 85-scholarship limit, and wondered if it was coincidence that six Rebels had just disappeared from the Ole Miss roster. Much like Nick Saban before him, Nutt shot back to the press that yes, that did happen to be coincidence:
"I've never ran anyone off in my career unless they broke multiple team rules or just committed a serious crime or something like that," Nutt said. "That's never happened."

Nutt said all the departing players came to him requesting to leave for reasons ranging from personal issues to a desire for more playing time.

Critics charged Nutt with cutting those players to get under 85, but Nutt said that's unfounded. "What's unfair is (critics) go number by number and they don't have all the facts and then they say, 'He has to be running kids off,' " Nutt said.
To be fair to Nutt, until one of the six players speaks out regarding his departure from the team -- Veazey reported that one player declined comment, with the other five unable to be reached -- he's correct that the "critics" are responding to numbers alone rather than hard evidence the players were forced out to make room on the roster. It's also worth pointing out that if Veazey's numbers are correct, Nutt would have had to "run off" only a couple of players to fit under the 85 cap, rather than six.

But if there's any coach that's not going to receive the benefit of the doubt when it comes to oversigning, it's one that's already had his own rule named after him, doesn't have his 2011 class down to the NCAA-mandated 25 yet, and switched one recruit's full offer to a grayshirt just days before this past Signing Day . No one should blame Nutt for protesting his innocence, but he also can't be surprised if it takes a lot more protesting before that message gets across.

Posted on: February 10, 2011 3:58 pm
 

Plenty of players leaving Ole Miss

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Earlier this week Jesse Grandy announced that he was leaving Ole Miss to play football closer to home since a member of his family recently became ill. It seems Grandy has started a trend. According to the Clarion-Ledger, there are a few other players who are no longer on the Rebels' roster, and they've found new homes as well.
Later in that note, though, there are a couple of other names mentioned: Dele Junaid and Jared Mitchell. Both were scholarship players who are not on this roster that the school distributed Tuesday night, shortly after the news of Grandy’s departure broke.
But here are four more scholarship players from last year who were missing, as we noted early Wednesday afternoon on Twitter: RB Martez Eastland, OL Terrance Hackney, DE Lekenwic Haynes and DL Alan-Michael Thomas.
Junaid is transferring to a junior college in Texas, Eastland is on his way to Georgia Southern, and the others are all transferring, but haven't found a new destination just yet. So why is there suddenly an exodus from Houston Nutt and Oxford? Well, according to Oversigning.com, Ole Miss had 15 open spots on its roster going into 2011. On signing day the Rebels announced a freshman class of 27 newly signed players.

A quick check of the math shows that the Rebels added twelve more players than the team had spots for, and now suddenly a bunch of players are moving on. It's funny how that works, isn't it?
Posted on: February 8, 2011 6:45 pm
 

Jesse Grandy leaving Ole Miss

Posted by Tom Fornelli

According to The Clarion-Ledger's Kyle Veazey, Ole Miss WR/KR Jesse Grandy is leaving school to transfer closer to home. The reason that's given for Grandy's decision is that there is an illness in his family, which would explain why the Pine Bluff, Arkansas native would prefer to be closer to his family at the moment.

Grandy and Houston Nutt finalized the transfer on Tuesday afternoon.

The sophomore caught 20 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown for the Rebels in 2010, while also rushing 12 times for 88 yards. Grandy also played on special teams, where he made his biggest impact. He returned 45 punts and kicks for a total of 847 yards, and also returned one punt 73 yards for a touchdown.

His absence will hurt the Rebels, but it's not a crushing blow. While Markeith Summers is graduating, the school still returns three of its top four receivers in Melvin Harris, Ja-Mes Logan and Brandon Bolden.
Posted on: January 25, 2011 11:57 am
 

Ole Miss search for QB leads to transfer Brunetti

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When one-time hyped quarterback recruit Raymond Cotton left Oxford in a huff last offseason, Houston Nutt decided to shore up his signal-calling depth in the most high-profile way possible: by bringing in banished Oregon quarterback and alleged Heisman candidate Jeremiah Masoli. Masoli (as expected) won the starting job from sophomore Nathan Stanley, but struggled with the rapid (lack of) transition as the Rebels finished a disappointing 4-8.

But that hasn't stopped Nutt from returning to the transfer well again, as Ole Miss has confirmed to Clarion-Ledger reporter Kyle Veazey that they will be officially accepting the transfer of former West Virginia quarterback Barry Brunetti. Brunetti spent just one season in Morgantown, attempting nine passes and completing four without an interception or touchdown.

But Brunetti will arrive at Ole Miss with some measure of hype, ranking as one of the more highly-regarded "dual-threat" quarterbacks in the class of 2010, with offers from the likes of Tennessee, Penn State and in-state rival Mississippi State. It's even possible he could play this season, as the Memphis Commerical-Appeal reported in mid-January ; he'll be applying for a hardship waiver from the NCAA based on his mother's health issues and Oxford's proximity to his hometown of Memphis.

If the NCAA does grant the waiver -- not a sure thing, but certainly a possibility, as the almost-similar travails of Masoli proved -- Stanley will have yet another battle on his hands for a starting position that seemed to be all his both in 2010 and 2011. Whether or not he wins it, it seems clear by this point that his head coach just isn't comfortable handing the job over to him without Stanley having to fight for it.

Posted on: January 19, 2011 12:55 pm
 

Ok St. loses assistant Brewer to Ole Miss

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A major part of Oklahoma State's rampant offensive success the past several seasons has been head coach Mike Gundy's keen eye for spotting offensive-minded coaching talent. But after losing yet another offensive assistant to another program, it might be time to ask: has Gundy's eye been too keen for the Cowboys' own good?

Former Poke play-caller Larry Fedora was hired as Southern Miss's head coach. Fedora's one-time co-offensive coordinator Trooper Taylor just won a national title as Auburn's receivers coach. Dana Holgorsen spent just one brilliant season in Stillwater before agreeing to become West Virginia's head coach after a one-year apprenticeship. And as of today, Gundy's most recent receivers coach (and his 2008-2009 co-coordinator), Gunter Brewer, has also flown the coop; he's following his father's footsteps to Ole Miss.

As Kyle Veazey of the Clarion-Ledger reports, it sounds like Brewer was just waiting for the right time to come back to same school where his father, Billy Brewer, once served as head coach:

“It’s good to always be coming home,” Brewer said. “So I’m looking forward to the journey. Done some outstanding things at Oklahoma State, and I hope to carry that over to Ole Miss and just expand on that.”

Brewer said he always tried to stay in touch with Ole Miss over the years to see if the timing would be right for an opportunity to join the Rebel staff. “When the opportunity arose, (Houston Nutt ) asked if I might be interested,” Brewer said. “And he was wanting to look at some things offensively that we’ve had success here at Oklahoma State and other places."

In this particular case, it's not that that success was what yanked Brewer out of Stillwater; without his family ties to Oxford, it seems clear he'd still be on Gundy's staff. Then again, it's also clear that if he hadn't put together the kind of resume under Gundy he did -- Brewer was the position coach for All-Americans like Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon -- Nutt wouldn't have bothere reciprocating Brewer's interest in the first place.

At some point, the Cowboys have to wonder just what it takes to keep their offensive staff intact for more than a year. (With T. Boone Pickens footing the bill, you wouldn't think salaries would be an issue.) The price of success is always high, but for whatever reason, it's seemed particularly steep at Oklahoma State.
 
 
 
 
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