By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – After five days on staff, Dave Rader had a hard time assessing just how he fits with his new co-workers, but Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt did not.
“Aw, he’s been perfect,” Nutt said.
Chemistry is an important part of any coaching staff, and Nutt believes he’s maintained good rhythm with the hiring of Rader as co-offensive coordinator.
The vacancy occurred when offensive coordinator Kent Austin resigned shortly before signing day to become head coach at Cornell.
With the new hire, Nutt split the position between Rader, 52, and offensive line coach Mike Markuson, who had already held the title of run-game coordinator.
Nutt, who calls his own plays, will remain very active in offensive philosophy and planning. He wasn’t looking to hire a coach bent on running his own system.
To some extent that limited who he could consider in the search for Austin’s replacement.
“Yeah, it may limit you some, but our phone was ringing off the hook with people calling from all over the country, seeing this atmosphere and wanting to be a part, coordinators who had been calling their own plays by themselves,” Nutt said.
Certainly Rader, who has given some thought to a run for Congress as a Republican, has done that as a former coordinator and 12-year head coach at Tulsa in his hometown.
He is beginning his fourth tour in the SEC, his first since 2006. That’s when Mike Shula’s staff at Alabama was let go. Rader had been his coordinator for four seasons.
Sharing the title and responsibilities are not a problem, Rader says.
“Coach Nutt has won so many games with his system it would be foolish to try and talk him out of it,” Rader said. “I’m coming here to learn the Ole Miss system.”
Keeping up with the game
That won’t be more difficult because of a three-year layoff, he said. During his time away from coaching Rader kept an eye on college football with DVDs of games that friends would occasionally send and by subscribing to ESPN Game Plan.
“I really don’t think there’s a drop-off. If I had coached in December I’d still be coming here and learning the Ole Miss system,” he said.
He turned down three other coaching opportunities but called this one “intriguing,” and the decision to accept was a “no-brainer.”
“I like being around good people, working with quarterbacks and the chance to win, those three things. This was a great opportunity.”
He’ll have much work to do with two quarterbacks in the spring and a third competitor in August if signee Randall Mackey graduates from East Mississippi Community College as expected.
In the meantime, third-year sophomore Nathan Stanley and redshirt freshman Raymond Cotton will have Rader’s attention in the spring. Only Stanley has game experience – and not much of that.
The ability to teach quarterbacks was a key element in Nutt’s search.
“As we get into the meeting room and get into the playbook I can’t wait to hear his ideas,” he said. “When he was at Tulsa he was an excellent, creative play-caller. He really put his people in the right positions and had a way of stretching the field.”