The emotions that stir when Houston Nutt returns to Arkansas are emotions largely of the fan base, no doubt some from the administration too.
It becomes less about the players every year.
The general feeling at the end of the 2007 season – when Nutt was transitioning to Ole Miss to replace Ed Orgeron – was that his Arkansas players wanted him to stay in Fayetteville. Nutt has always been regarded as a “players’ coach.”
That’s speaking in generalities, of course. Maybe there was a player, perhaps a handful, who didn’t things were working out for them under Nutt and that change would be a good thing.
For the most part I suspect Nutt’s former players want to win because all players want to win, not to “get Houston.”
I also don’t think Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino has any personal ill will for Nutt, but I’m sure he understands how much some donors would enjoy winning this game.
Every now and then Nutt will pause and consider a question a little longer before answering. That’s what he did yesterday, and laughed a litlte bit, when asked if he thought there were still people around the Arkansas program that wanted this game as much to “beat Houston” as anything else.
He finally said he thinks there’s “a few” that want to see that.
It was more than a few in 2008 when I was standing in the south end zone at the end of that game. Brandon Bolden aptly described the scene as “crazy” when the Rebels were leaving the field in Fayetteville after hanging on for a 23-21 win.
Here’s a quick glance at Nutt’s Arkansas signees on the Razorbacks’ two-deep depth chart this season:
TE DJ Williams, OL Ray Dominguez, OL DeMarcus Love, OL Grant Freeman, OL Wade Grayson, OL Set Oxner, FB Van Stumon, K Alex Tejada, DL Jake Bequette, DL Damario Ambrose, LB Jermaine Love, CB Ramon Broadway, CB Isaac Madison