Let's play football | Arkansas Blog

Friday, October 24, 2008

Let's play football

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 8:42 PM

Hog fans go Nutts tomorrow. With the Ole Miss kickoff looming, I thought I'd post this column by Robert Shields, who confesses he kind of misses ol' Houston Dale. The drama particularly.
Missing the Shenanigans of Houston Nutt
Robert Shields
If you were/are one of the people who hated Houston Nutt, this is vindication Saturday.
The Razorbacks face Ole Miss this weekend, and it will be the hardest ticket to get in Fayetteville since Texas came to town in 2004 to hand the Hogs a two-point loss, which is appropriate since Ole Miss will now assume the mantle as Arkansas’ chief rival and the game that the fans circle on the calendar. “Ole Miss Week” can’t be far behind if the coming circus even comes close to living up to its billing.
I expect an emotional Nutt to be sky high, and that will transfer to a group of fired-up Rebels. He will have them playing like it’s their Super Bowl and point out the fact that they have not beaten the Hogs since 2003. New Hog Bobby Petrino must be vigilant because Nutt will pull out all the stops and have at least one weirdo Reggie-Fish-tucked-behind-the-center kind of play.
Since Nutt is coming to town, I have to digress and admit that I miss him. Not the man, necessarily, but the constant drama that swirled around him and the Program. From NCAA investigations, Batmobiles, e-mails and text messaging, it was an exciting time for the Razorback football program. Under Nutt, every week we were always only one FOI away from having the story of a lifetime.
This column was on auto pilot when Nutt was running the ship into the iceberg one week and then somehow the next week floating the rescue raft in some wild victory a la LSU last year. The column under the regime of Nutt and Frank Broyles basically wrote itself.
Petrino doesn’t offer too much excitement in the way of quotes, but with Nutt you always got great stuff like “I called that play, Chuck,” “I’m a winner and a fighter,” “This is a double chinstrap game,” or something to that effect. You got to hear the overused “special” anytime the Hogs won a game.
I miss the insane antics such as climbing up the band ladder after each home win and giving the upside down Hook ‘em Horns to the crowd in Austin.
It really was like the circus came to town when he arrived in a carnival-like atmosphere back in 1997 with the large media push from the likes of Wally Hall urging his hiring instead of Tommy Tuberville. Nutt left the state in the same media circus as he arrived when he headed to Ole Miss. I don‘t know if they were good times, but they sure were interesting.
I never wanted Nutt hired in the first place. I thought Nutt would be a disaster, and by that I mean even worse than Danny Ford. The first time that I met him at a media event left a lasting impression. Someone asked me about him since he was new. My comment time and again was that “you either hired someone who is very stupid or very aloof.” After those comments about Nutt, I was often greeted by hard feedback since Nutt was loved by everyone in the state back then.
But Nutt’s record at Arkansas vastly exceeded my expectations. He went to eight bowl games (five of those New Year‘s Day bowl games) in 10 years. He won the SEC West three times in those 10 years and went to the SEC championship game twice. He was named SEC Coach of the Year three times.
Petrino will be hard pressed to meet that standard. I have to admit now that Nutt is gone that I really miss all his shenanigans.
I can’t even begin to talk about that painful loss to Kentucky. The loss was very disturbing on many levels. It is the kind of loss that makes players start to question everything. The Hogs now stand 2-4 against Kentucky in football, and that is hard to accept. Hey, don‘t worry the Hogs still have basketball.


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