Ole Miss hires former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt

By CHRIS TALBOTT, Associated Press Writer
November 27, 2007

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Houston Nutt wasn't out of a job for long: He was hired as Southeastern Conference rival Mississippi's football coach just hours after resigning at Arkansas.

Nutt agreed to a contract late Monday night, and replaces Ed Orgeron, who was fired Saturday after the Rebels lost to rival Mississippi State to finish 3-9 and winless in the SEC.

The school announced the hiring through a three-paragraph e-mail Tuesday sent out by athletic director Pete Boone. The school said a news conference will be held Wednesday in Oxford. No contract details were made available.

Ole Miss was searching for a proven winner after years of mediocrity. Nutt neatly fits the description.

He is 111-70 in 15 years as a head coach at Arkansas, Boise State and Murray State. And he's been a winner in the SEC. The Little Rock, Ark., native rebuilt the Arkansas program, going 75-48 since his hiring in 1997 to replace Danny Ford. He was 42-38 in conference with one of his biggest wins coming last week when the Razorbacks beat then-No. 1 LSU 50-48 triple-overtime win.

While Arkansas is likely headed to the Cotton Bowl, Nutt will be going to the homes of recruits attempting to hold together the promising class Orgeron was assembling.

Nutt, 50, said Monday he left Arkansas to help mend a split among fans after off-the-field problems were compounded by a difficult season. The Razorbacks started the year ranked and were expected to contend for the SEC West title against the Tigers.

Arkansas lost its first three SEC games and dropped out of the poll in September, fueling fan discontent over last year's transfer of quarterback Mitch Mustain and the loss of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who left for Tulsa.

A call to Nutt's agent, Jimmy Sexton, was not immediately returned.

Nutt takes over a program that has foundered since a 10-win season in 2003 under David Cutcliffe. The Rebels won a share of the SEC West that season with Eli Manning at quarterback.

Since then Ole Miss has had four or fewer wins in four seasons. Boone fired Cutcliffe in 2004 for a lack of effort in recruiting. He had hoped Orgeron, who helped build two national title teams at USC as Pete Carroll's recruiting coordinator, would bring the kind of energy needed to compete in the nation's best football conference.

Orgeron finished 10-25 and was routinely the target of fan discontent.

Boone and Chancellor Robert Khayat endorsed Orgeron midway through the season, but decided to go in a new direction after the Rebels lost five of six to end the year.


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