Rebels To Battle Bulldogs For Egg Bowl
Brunetti Earns Second Career Start
Ole Miss Set To Face Mississippi State In Egg Bowl
Rebels And Tigers Tangle At 6 PM
Ole Miss vs. Auburn
Houston Nutt, who was introduced as the school's 36th head coach on Nov. 28, 2007, served as Ole Miss' head coach from 2008-2011 and guided the Rebels to back-to-back Cotton Bowl wins in 2009 and 10.
After guiding Arkansas to three SEC Western Division titles and eight bowl berths in his decade in Fayetteville, Nutt immediately reversed the Rebels' fortunes and guided Ole Miss to success not experienced in Oxford in a half century.
Nutt's first two years at the helm produced consecutive nine-win seasons for the first time since 1961-62 and back-to-back January bowl victories for the first time since 1960-61.
Including his decade of success at Arkansas, Nutt has guided his teams to 10 bowl berths in the past 13 seasons, most of any SEC Western Division coach during this span. Nutt's squads recorded eight or more wins in eight of those 13 campaigns and nine or more victories in six of those seasons in the SEC.
In his 13 seasons in the conference, Nutt has piled up 53 SEC victories, which ranks 14th in league history and third among current league coaches. With a 97-64 overall mark as an SEC coach, Nutt ranks 18th all-time in the league in coaching victories and behind only Steve Spurrier among active coaches.
In his first season in Oxford, Nutt led one of the greatest turnarounds in school history, reviving a Rebel squad that was coming off four straight losing seasons and a 3-8 campaign with no conference wins in 2007. With a 9-4 record (5-3 in the SEC), it marked the team's best improvement from one season to the next since legendary Ole Miss Coach John Vaught's debut in 1947.
Projected to place fifth in the SEC Western Division in the preseason, Nutt's first Rebel unit finished second in the West, ended the season on a six-game win streak and earned a No. 14 final national ranking.
Nutt's efforts earned him SEC Coach of the Year honors (SEC Coaches and The Touchdown Club of Atlanta) for the third time in his decorated career and AFCA Region Coach of the Year accolades for the fifth time.
Rising as high as No. 4 in the national rankings in 2009, Nutt's Rebels knocked off No. 8 LSU, Tennessee and Arkansas en route to a second straight berth in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, in which Ole Miss prevailed over No. 18 Oklahoma State 21-7. The Rebels finished 20th in the AP poll.
Nutt was bestowed with one of his greatest honors in 2009, as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes named him the 2009 FCA Grant Teaff Coach of the Year Award recipient. The award recognizes a football coach who exemplifies Christian principles and who is involved in FCA. The award is also based on the success/performance of the coach's team that year.
With his team decimated by injuries and departures, Nutt saw his streak of four straight seasons of eight or more wins and a January bowl berth come to an end in 2010 with a 4-8 record.
Despite the disappointment, Nutt took optimism away from last season, as 42 underclassmen gained valuable experience, including 18 freshmen. With seven underclassmen earning starts on the offensive line, Ole Miss topped the SEC in fewest sacks allowed and ranked third in rushing offense.
In his three seasons in Oxford, Nutt has continued his reputation as a giant killer, as his Rebels have registered five wins over ranked teams and three against top-10 teams, including a 25-23 victory over eighth-ranked LSU in 2009.
The 2008 Ole Miss squad knocked off three top-20 foes away from Oxford, including the defending national champion in No. 18 LSU and the eventual title holder in No. 4 Florida. The third win was a resounding 47-34 defeat of No. 8 Texas Tech in the 2009 Cotton Bowl.
The upset over the Gators - their lone blemish of the season - provided Nutt his fifth win against a top-five opponent as a head coach. In all five wins, Nutt's team entered the game unranked, and four of the wins came on the road.
Also the 2006 SEC Coach of the Year, Nutt has recorded 21 victories over ranked opponents, including the 50-48 overtime win at eventual national champion and No. 1-ranked LSU in his final game as Arkansas mentor. He has had 25 victories while his own team was ranked.
Nutt, who was also named SEC Coach of the Year in 2001 and National Coach of the Year in 1998, guided Arkansas to three final national rankings, including a final ranking of No. 15 in 2006.
In his 10 seasons in Fayetteville, Nutt was the second-longest tenured coach in the SEC. Arkansas went 75-48 during his time, including 42-38 in SEC play. In the previous eight years prior to Nutt's arrival, Arkansas was 38-51 with two bowl bids. In UA's first six years in the Southeastern Conference (1992-97) prior to Nutt's return to Fayetteville, the Razorbacks totaled only 19 league victories.
After that, Nutt led the Hogs to four nine-win seasons, including a 10-4 mark in 2006, and SEC Western Division championships in 1998, 2002 and 2006. The Razorbacks earned trips to the Citrus (1999), Cotton (2000, 2002 & 2007), Las Vegas (2000), Music City (2002), Independence (2003) and Capital One (2006) bowls.
Under Nutt, the Razorbacks went 53-17 at home, which was the second-most home victories in the SEC during that span.
Nutt and his staff have produced 20 All-America selections, 91 All-SEC selections, a Walter Camp Player of the Year winner (Darren McFadden, 2007), a two-time Doak Walker Award winner (McFadden, 2006 & 2007), a Rimington Trophy winner (Jonathan Luigs, 2007), a two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up (McFadden, 2006 & 2007), two Outland Trophy finalists (Michael Oher, 2008 & Shawn Andrews, 2003) and a Lombardi Award finalist (Andrews, 2003). In UA's first six seasons in the SEC, the Razorbacks averaged three All-SEC picks and had no All-Americans.
Nutt's teams have had 108 games televised since 1998, an average of more than eight per season. In the eight years prior to Nutt's arrival, the Hogs appeared on television 36 times, an average of 4.5 games per year.
Nutt's offensive approach has made the Ole Miss rushing attack rise from one of the SEC's worst to one of the best. In 2008, the Rebels recorded their most rushing yards since 1990 and ranked second in the conference after ranking 11th just one year prior.
Ole Miss' potent rushing production from year one under Nutt (186.5 ypg, 21 TDs) continued in year two (183.6 ypg, 22 TDs), and in 2010, the Rebels raised their rushing average another 20 yards to a 207.6 clip and 28 TDs. Both of those totals ranked third in the SEC.
Arkansas led the SEC in rushing five of Nutt's last six years there and ranked among the nation's top 15 five times. Nutt's teams recorded four of the top eight season rushing totals, five of the top nine season passing totals, the top four total offensive averages, five of the top eight season scoring totals and the top seven touchdown passing seasons in school history.
Defensively, Nutt's squads have ranked among the NCAA's top 30 in rushing defense four times, in passing defense three times and in total defense six times.
In his first year in Oxford, Ole Miss dramatically jumped to No. 2 in the SEC in rushing yards allowed from No. 11 in 2007. In fact, Nutt's Rebels finished fourth in the nation in rush defense and tied for first in tackles for loss.
Ole Miss remained among the NCAA leaders in TFLs again in 2009 at No. 11, while improving in pass defense from 63rd in the nation to 15th. That unit also ranked 11th in pass efficiency defense, 14th in country in sacks and 15th in scoring defense.
Nutt's Ole Miss defense maintained that trend of attacking the backfield in 2010, as it finished No. 19 in the nation in sacks and No. 21 in TFLs.
Nutt has also shown the ability to prepare athletes for the professional level as evidenced by the 41 NFL Draft selections since 1998. He has helped eight former Rebels hear their names called, including two first-rounders for the first time in school history with Michael Oher (Baltimore) and Peria Jerry (Atlanta) in 2009. Fourteen more Rebels have signed free agent contracts.
Nutt also tutored a pair of first-round picks in 2008 and six total draftees. Former Hog Darren McFadden was the fourth overall selection (Oakland), while backfield mate Felix Jones was taken at No. 22 (Dallas) to run the Razorbacks' total to six first-rounders in five years.
In 2007, a total of 13 Razorbacks signed professionally, including four draft picks and nine free agents. Defensive end Jamaal Anderson (Atlanta Falcons) went in the first round.
Quarterback Matt Jones (Jacksonville) made it yet another first-round draft pick under Nutt when he was taken with the 21st overall choice in 2005. In 2004, six former Razorbacks were chosen in the NFL Draft, including first-round selections Shawn Andrews (Philadelphia) and Ahmad "Batman" Carroll (Green Bay).
Nutt also enhanced the academic success of his players with dozens of student-athletes graduating before their athletic eligibility expired and the 175 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections, including 22 Rebels in 2009. A total of 74 Razorbacks were named to UA's Academic Honor Roll (3.0 grade point average or better) during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
Off the field, Nutt has also given back to the community in a variety of charitable causes. In addition to receiving the 2009 FCA Coach of the Year award, he and his wife Diana committed a gift of $100,000 to the University of Mississippi in April 2009 to create scholarships for deserving student-athletes and to go towards the Indoor Practice Facility.
Houston and Diana are strong supporters of the Boys & Girls Club and welcomed 50 of the Oxford Club's children and their parents as special guests for the 2009 Northern Arizona game.
In the summer of 2009, Nutt took part in the Second Annual Coaches Tour presented by Under Armour, traveling to military bases throughout the Middle East to visit U.S. Troops. Along with head coaches Mack Brown (Texas), Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Rick Neuheisel (UCLA) and Tommy Tuberville (Texas Tech), Nutt headed to the gulf on a USAF KC-135 Refueling Tanker and visited more than 12,000 troops and traveled 20,000 flight miles.
The coaches participated in meet-and-greets at various bases and coached flag football teams made up of servicemen and women. The head coaches also hosted a symposium where audience members had the opportunity to ask questions.
Also in 2009, Nutt received the Award of Merit from representatives from the National Water Safety Congress and Sardis Lake. He was recognized for his part in helping produce several public service announcements about the importance of wearing a life jacket.
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Success is nothing new to the Little Rock, Ark., native. Nutt has compiled a career record of 133-86 (.607) in 18 seasons as a head coach including stops at Murray State, Boise State, Arkansas and Ole Miss.
When Nutt was introduced as Arkansas head coach on Dec. 10, 1997, it would have been difficult for anyone to envision the immediate, positive impact that he had on a program, a university and a state.
Taking the reins of a proud program that had faltered in back-to-back 4-7 seasons, Nutt faced the daunting task of restoring the excitement and passion in Razorback football.
Nutt made an immeasurable impact on the Arkansas football program, but his commitment to enhance the program was not limited to the playing field. Nutt created a family atmosphere for the student-athletes who chose to come to Fayetteville and now to Oxford.
While his on-field accomplishments speak for themselves, it is his investment in the lives of his players that sets him apart. He and his staff personally monitor class attendance and visit players in their apartments and dormitory rooms at night. Nutt consistently makes decisions with the best interests of his program and student-athletes in mind. While wins and losses are easily calculated, it is Nutt's commitment to the academic success of his student-athletes that will continue to pay dividends for years to come.
His philosophy has proven to be a recipe for success in the rough and tumble world of SEC football. Once courted by Frank Broyles as a star quarterback out of Little Rock's Central High School, Nutt first thrilled Hog fans when, as a high school senior, he signed with Broyles over Paul "Bear" Bryant and Alabama. He was the last player to sign a letter of intent to play for Broyles before the legendary coach retired after the 1976 season.
With Ron Calcagni sidelined by an injury, Nutt started four games as a true freshman in 1976. He also lettered for Arkansas' basketball team that year, a squad that finished 26-2 and won the Southwest Conference championship with a perfect 16-0 league mark under Coach Eddie Sutton.
Recruited as a drop-back passer, Nutt spent the 1977 season as a backup in the option-oriented offense instituted by Lou Holtz, Broyles' successor at the helm of the UA football program. He decided to transfer to Oklahoma State where he redshirted and then played two years at quarterback for the Cowboys. He also spent two seasons with the OSU basketball program. Nutt earned his degree in physical education in 1981. Following his graduation, Nutt remained at OSU as a graduate assistant for head coach Jimmy Johnson.
In 1983, he returned to Arkansas as a graduate assistant under Holtz. His first full-time position came at Arkansas State in the spring of 1984, but Nutt never worked a game in Jonesboro. Instead, Nutt returned to Oklahoma State, this time to be a receivers coach, in August of 1984.
He remained in Stillwater for six seasons, working extensively with quarterbacks and receivers. He was named offensive coordinator late in the 1989 season. Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders and All-American Thurman Thomas both played for the Cowboys during Nutt's tenure.
Nutt made the trek back to Fayetteville in 1990 to serve as wide receivers coach under Jack Crowe. During his three seasons on campus, Nutt quickly gained a reputation as an aggressive recruiter while he was establishing excellent relationships with high school coaches in Arkansas.
Murray State recognized his abilities and hired him as head coach in 1993. Nutt guided the Racers to steady progress with 4-7 and 5-6 marks in his first two seasons. In 1995, the program took off.
The Racers went 11-1 in 1995 and won the Ohio Valley Conference with a perfect 8-0 mark. They scored a school-record 421 points and had the most improved record in NCAA Division I-AA football. Their league championship was the school's first since 1986. Nutt was named OVC Coach of the Year and The Sports Network/Eddie Robinson National Division I-AA Coach of the Year.
In 1996, the Racers posted an 11-2 record, including a perfect 8-0 mark in winning their second consecutive league title. MSU won its first I-AA playoff game in school history while eclipsing the school scoring record set just the season before. Nutt was again named OVC and Regional Coach of the Year.
Nutt's accomplishments didn't go unnoticed. Boise State, in just its second season of Division I-A football, called on Nutt to take over a fledgling program that was coming off a dismal 2-10 record. In fact, Sports Illustrated rated Boise State 112th out of 112 teams in Division I-A football.
With what most observers agreed was a limited talent pool, Nutt managed to guide the Broncos to a 5-6 record in his first campaign. Nutt's squad held a lead against Wisconsin in the final minute of play at Madison, Wis., before the Badgers escaped with a win. The Broncos did, however, upset archrival Idaho on its own home field to end the 1997 season.
After a successful season at Boise State, Nutt found himself in the running for the top job at Arkansas. The first candidate interviewed, he waited a week to learn his fate before hearing the job was his.
Once he arrived in Fayetteville, he took the state by storm. As he recruited student-athletes, he also re-recruited fans who had grown apathetic during a listless decade of Hog football. Many who had stayed away were rejuvenated by Nutt's enthusiasm.
Fans were not the only ones attracted to Nutt's refreshing approach. Picked to finish last in the SEC West, the Razorbacks exploded out of the gates, winning their first eight games. Arkansas had top-ranked Tennessee on the ropes at Knoxville, Tenn., before an untimely fumble allowed the Volunteers to escape on the way to a national championship.
The Razorbacks finished 9-3 and won a share of the SEC Western Division title. The Hogs made their first ever trip to the Florida Citrus Bowl and concluded the season with their first top-20 poll finish (16th) in nine seasons. For his efforts, Nutt was named Football News' National Coach of the Year.
In 1999, the Razorbacks became the Western Division favorite because of an unusually large senior class. The Hogs had trouble on the road throughout the campaign, but finished in the manner of legends, defeating No. 3 Tennessee and No. 12 Mississippi State on consecutive weekends to earn a spot opposite long-time rival Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
Nutt's well-prepared team handed the Longhorns a 27-6 defeat in front of a packed house that included more than 40,000 cardinal-clad Hog fans. For the first time in its illustrious history, Texas was held to negative rushing yards. Once again the Hogs finished in the top 20 in the final polls, and Nutt's status in the eyes of fans was raised to an even higher level.
In the 2000 campaign, Nutt faced his toughest challenge yet, taking on a daunting schedule without the services of the top career passer (Clint Stoerner) and receiver (Anthony Lucas) in school history. From literally the first day of workouts, Nutt and the Razorbacks faced more than their fair share of adversity and injuries. Nine players were lost for the season to injury, including the top three tailbacks listed on the preseason depth chart. In addition, dozens of other players missed practice and game time with various ailments.
Despite all the misfortune and distractions, Nutt rallied his team to back-to-back wins over No. 13 Mississippi State and No. 24 LSU to secure yet another winning regular season and a bowl game.
In 2001, the Razorbacks stumbled to a 1-3 start, including three-straight losses in league play. Nutt and the Hogs rebounded to win six of their final seven regular-season games, including wins over conference divisional leaders in consecutive contests. Arkansas topped No. 9 South Carolina, 10-7, before downing No. 17 Auburn, 42-17. The Hogs won their way back to Dallas for a New Year's Day meeting with defending national champion Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
The 2002 season started impressively with convincing wins over Boise State and South Florida. After a home loss to Alabama and a road defeat at the hands of Tennessee in six overtimes, the Razorbacks' hopes for a division title looked bleak, but once again Nutt rallied his team down the stretch. Five straight wins, including road conference wins at South Carolina and Mississippi State, gave the Hogs a chance for a share of the SEC Western Division crown. Trailing nationally ranked LSU with less than a minute to play, quarterback Matt Jones found DeCori Birmingham in the back of the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown pass, a share of the SEC Western Division title and a ticket to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, Ga. Arkansas made its second appearance in the league championship game and capped its season in the Music City Bowl.
The Razorbacks wasted little time getting noticed in 2003. Arkansas topped No. 5 Texas, 38-28, in a nationally televised showdown at Austin in the second game of the season. Arkansas vaulted into the national polls at No. 14, marking the highest debut of any team since the poll was expanded to 25 teams in 1989. Two weeks later, Arkansas rallied for a 34-31 double-overtime win at Alabama to keep the momentum going. After suffering a trio of heartbreaking conference games, Arkansas salvaged its season with a historic 71-63 seven-overtime win at Kentucky. The Hogs tied their own NCAA record for overtime periods set in 2001 at Ole Miss. The memorable win ignited a streak that saw the Razorbacks win four of their last five games including a 27-14 win over Missouri in the Independence Bowl.
Nutt was only the third head coach in Arkansas history to lead the Hogs to bowl games in each of his first six seasons. Nutt joined former UA leaders Lou Holtz and Ken Hatfield in accomplishing that feat.
Arkansas mounted another late-season run in 2004 before coming up just shy of extending its bowl streak to a school record seven-consecutive seasons.
With a new quarterback, the Razorbacks missed out on a bowl bid in 2005, but showed great improvement down the stretch. UA led the SEC in rushing for the third time in four years, won two of its last three and suffered its last three losses by a combined nine points.
The Hogs were back in business in 2006. After a season-opening loss, Arkansas reeled off 10 straight wins, including wins over No. 2 Auburn, No. 13 Tennessee and No. 22 Alabama, and won the Western Division title. UA had chances to win but came up short against No. 4 Florida in the SEC Championship game, 38-28, and in the Capital One Bowl against No. 6 Wisconsin, 17-14. Darren McFadden led the SEC and set a school record by running for 1,647 yards and 14 touchdowns. He won the Doak Walker Award as the country's top tailback and finished second in Heisman Trophy balloting.
Nutt was named SEC Coach of the Year by the SEC coaches, the Associated Press and the Little Rock and Atlanta touchdown clubs. Also a national coach of the year finalist, away from the field he was recognized as the 2006 Easter Seals Arkansan of the Year.
Much like the nine prior, Nutt's final campaign with the Razorbacks displayed the determination of his teams. After a 3-3 start that saw a three-point loss at Alabama and a two-point setback to No. 22 Auburn, Arkansas rallied with wins in five of its last six games en route to earning a Cotton Bowl berth.
His coaching finale with his homestate team epitomized the heart of Nutt's Razorbacks. A huge underdog in Death Valley, Arkansas marched into Baton Rouge and battled past the nation's top-ranked team and eventual BCS champion LSU in a 50-48 triple-overtime classic. It was Nutt's seventh OT game with the Hogs, posting an amazing 6-1 record.
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Nutt is quick to credit his upbringing for laying the foundation for his success. His parents, the late Houston Sr. and Emogene, spent 35 years teaching young people at the Arkansas School for the Deaf in Little Rock. His father, a 2001 inductee into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, also served as athletics director and head basketball coach.
The oldest of four Nutt boys, Houston is not the only family member carrying on his father's coaching legacy. Dickey spent 13 seasons as the head basketball coach at Arkansas State and is now the head coach at Southeast Missouri State, while Danny was the Razorbacks' running backs coach from 1998-2006 and is currently Ole Miss' Assistant Athletics Director for Player Development. Dennis was the head basketball coach at Texas State for six years and spent time as an NBA scout. The Nutt coaching foursome was featured in an article in Sports Illustrated in 1999.
Houston Nutt has proven true to his family's rich coaching heritage: a heritage that is centered on commitment, enthusiasm and a passion for people. He has impacted his players' lives and revitalized tradition-rich programs in both Arkansas and now Ole Miss.
Born Oct. 14, 1957, Nutt and his wife Diana, who also graduated from Oklahoma State, have four children: Houston III, twins Hailey and Hanna, and Haven.
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