Monday, January 14

Is Houston Nutt Really A Better Coach Than David Cutcliffe?

nutt VS. Cutcliffe

What makes Nutt better than Cut? Most people would say, "Easy. Two trips to the ATL, asshole."

Well, Let's just talk about the things these coaches can control. Trips to Atlanta involve many outside factors.

In 2002 Houston's Hawgs went to Atlanta on the virtue of a 5-3 SEC season. Lucky for the Hawgs, one of their regular season beatdown losses came at the hands of a probation laden Alabama squad who was conveniently ineligible for the Championship game. Bama ended up 6-2 in the SEC that season, but Houston's Hawgs "earned" their way in as West Runner-ups. They subsequently got their asses handed to them by Georgia (27 point win), and to show the real caliber of this squad, the Hawgs then went on to get owned by Minnesota in the ever-so-prestigious Music City Bowl.

When was the last time an "SEC WEST Champion" played in the Music City Bowl?

Cutcliffe got his ass kicked in the Music City Bowl as well, but it was after a 4-4 SEC season.

In 2006 Nutt went 7-1 in the SEC, while losing to LSU at home toward the end of the season. In 2003 Cutcliffe went 7-1 in the SEC, while losing to LSU at home toward the end of the season. Scary. The only difference was another outside factor. In 2003, LSU was a better squad than they were in 2006. So, while Cutcliffe stayed home, Houston gets to travel to Atlanta for another double digit loss.

Other Factors...

SEC Record
Nutt: 43-37 (.5375 over 10 seasons)
Cut: 25-23 (.5208 over 6 seasons)

Bowl Games
Nutt: 8 bowls in 10 years
Cut: 4 bowl games in 6 years

Bowl Wins
Nutt: 2 bowl Wins (Indy, Cotton)
Cut: 3 bowl Wins (2 Indy, Cotton)

10 Win Seasons
Nutt: 1 in 10 years (2006)
Cut: 1 in 6 years (2003)

BCS Appearances
Nutt: 0 (10 years)
Cut: 0 (6 years)

All this to say, I didn't exactly argue with the Cutcliffe firing. (He wasn't building on his moderate success, mostly attributed to the genius QB play of Eli Manning)

So, honestly...what makes Houston Nutt a better coach for Ole Miss than David Cutcliffe?

[info from CollegeFootballDataWarehouse]


  1. damn good question....i've always thought nutt was a very good coach. but, you raise some interesting points.

    if you take the 'eli equation' out of cutcliffe's resume. hell, even take out his time with peyton at tennessee, how truly successful was he. that is the big question for me....

    houston nutt schemed some one-dimensional ark. teams into decent bowls. clint stoerner? casey dick? robert johnson?

    and, i'll never understand why a head coach doesn't get the benefit of the doubt against a 18 year old primadonna and his bickering mom. that should've never happened!

    we'll see what cut can do at duke. me thinks he'll be lucky to have a casey dick there...

  2. ...and i'm no arky apologist....i'm a gator fan

  3. I'm no arky homer either, but I think Ole Miss is going to have one good season (without winning the division), and then it's back down disappointment road. This guy (Nutt) is a thin-skinned, hard-headed, micromanaging cheerleader, who should stick to motivation and recruiting, and stay the hell out of the X&O's. Problem is, that's where the hard-headedness comes in. The only reason he lasted ten years in Hogland was ineptitude(and lack of living in the modern FB world) in the administration. If mediocrity is the goal, i.e., winning 50-60% of the games, going to 2nd tier bowl games on "good" years, and sometimes sitting at home over Xmas and New Year, then Nutt is perfect. I don't know if anyone has ever been so good at Peter Principling a team so consistently, and then bragging about the second place finish. Since expectations may be a little low right now, he'll probably look good for the short term, but wait until the true colors, the cheesiness, and the ineptitude become apparent (I predict two, maybe three seasons). He's Conf-USA talent who squirmed into the big time SEC arena.

    As for the comparison, I don't know that Cut is clearly better, but he's cetainly not worse.

  4. As an Arkansas fan, I believe there are some glaring ommissions that are overwhelmingly in Nutt's favor...

    Texting abilities: Adv. Nutt
    The ability to run off high profile coordinators: Adv. Nutt
    The ability to properly divide a fan base into two factions like we're in Iraq: Adv. Nutt
    The ability to deflect blame: Adv. Nutt
    The internet's ability to make fun of: Adv. Nutt

    As you can see, Ole Miss is getting a lot more for their money than just the stats you listed...

  5. jamie - If you take the physical freak Matt Jones away from Nutt like you propose to do with Eli, then Houston never makes it past 2002 at Arkansas.

    Nutt isn't an awful coach, and he does quite well as a motivator, but he lacks an understanding of the game one needs to win big in the SEC and refuses to hire coordinators who do (and if forced to upon threat of his job ['05], refuses to let them carry out the duties he promised them).

    Still, a Nutt team CAN come out on fire, catch the opponent flat, and pull off a mammoth upset. On the other hand, the Razorbacks often came out and looked sluggish and sloppy more than their fair share of the time.

    Nutt doesn't interfere much with how the defense is run, but on offense don't expect much flash (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), but also don't expect latent talent at qb and receiver to be utilized well.

    On the line, Markuson is the one assistant from the so-called Murray State mafia for whom I have a great respect as a coach. He's probably the best o-line coach in the conference, and has to be one of the top few in the country.

    Although Nutt's recruiting classes in Fayetteville never wowed, I do think he was, for the most part, better than the average coach at evaluating talent. Even if (although I might as well put "when") his classes come in not rated as highly as O's, Ole Miss will probably not see as great a drop-off talent-wise as some will fear.

    "and, i'll never understand why a head coach doesn't get the benefit of the doubt against a 18 year old primadonna and his bickering mom. that should've never happened!"

    I don't want to be an ass, but if you don't understand the Mustain/Malzahn debacle, you don't know enough about the situation to pass judgment. Even those up here who disagreed with Mustain and the Springdale faction understand why they did what they did.

    I'll say much less about Nutt's character issues than I'm tempted too. I hope he can avoid the behaviors which tarnished him at Arkansas. For his last 10 months in Fayetteville, I hoped that he would clean up his act. He will never find an administrator more tolerant of his actions than Frank Broyles, nor a media more amicable towards the head coach than the Razorbacks'. And, despite what you hear on ESPN, it's very difficult to piss of the Arkansas fanbase. Nutt did it during consecutive 10 and 8-win years.

  6. good stuff on Nutt, Robert. Thanks. Hope Nutt leaves new OC and Alum, Kent Austin alone when it comes to play calling.

    I think it's a great hire.

  7. Ole Nutt is quite a character. I dont want to say he is smart or charismatic, but he is a great manipulator when you first get to know him. He is impossible not to like at first because he has not had an opportunity to screw up yet, and his enthusiasm during exciting times is infectious.

    Believe it or not, I think he has walked into a perfect situation for himself at Ole Miss. The bad news is that the 2008 season will probably be about as good as Ole Miss will ever be under hoot. The players are actually in place to be pretty decent, and I guarantee you nobody in the conference will see it coming. That is what made Nutt's career at Arkansas. Nobody ever saw us coming, and we stole games from better or equal teams. Then when people actually took us seriously we got our asses kicked. Started 8-0 in 98, and beat Texas in the Cotton bowl the next year. He did that on another man's recruiting and talent development, but he was a hero. It lasted until he finally built a good team by his own recruiting for 2003 and just bombed with it (9-4 and 4-4, but that team could have easily, and should have, went 11-2 or better). The worm actually began to turn on Nutt following the 2003 season. The shit just really blew up in his face over the Malzahn-Mustain fiasco, which I do hold him 100% accountable for.

    Nutt, as stated, is neither a great or terrible coach. In fact, I dont think you could possibly find a better breathing definition of mediocrity. I genuinely believe that. He is perfect at it. His SEC record at Arkansas was actually 42-40 counting SECCG's. He would have been 3-5 at best next year had he stayed, and what do you know, 45-45 overall. Does mediocrity get more perfect than that?

    In 2-3 years when his warts become more obvious the fanbase will start to turn, and within five years he will be gone. Ole Miss will be split on how they feel about him leaving and people will talk about returning to the Orgeron years etc. It will probably be ugly because Nutt will latch on like a leach to people who support him and those people will defend him to the death.

    He will lie and get caught at it. He will poorly manage his staff. He will half ass recruit, and he will only pursue players he is almost certain he can sign. He just doesnt fish for big time players who actually want to be recruited. He will lose some games that will make you want to quit watching football altogether. He will win some games that will blow your mind, and then try to live off of those types of wins for 2-3 year stretches. He will blame everything that goes wrong on the best option available not named Nutt, and he will be damn good at it. He will underachieve with good teams and overachieve with bad ones.

    He is who he is, and he aint changing. That said, you will have plans for late december or early january most of the time.

  8. And don't forget, if/when he does win the SEC West (only to go on and lose the SECCG), he will brag about it like it's the national title.