Nutt is preparing for his third meeting with the Bulldogs as Ole Miss coach.
“After my first year, I didn’t really understand it. That was the way we won a lot of times when I was at Arkansas,” Nutt said. “I understand it now, and it’s huge … really huge.”
Khayat was the school’s chancellor when Nutt was hired in November of 2007. He pulled Nutt aside not long after his arrival and tried to explain the emotions surrounding the rivalry with another team in the same state, something he knew Nutt didn’t experience at Arkansas.
Nutt’s first Ole Miss team defeated MSU 45-0. Last year the Rebels had the better record and were playing for bowl-positioning when a 41-27 loss to the Bulldogs dropped Ole Miss from the Capital One Bowl to the Cotton Bowl.
While Nutt professes a better understanding of the rivalry, his players say his focus for the game is the same.
“I’ve never known coach Nutt to slack on a game plan,” linebacker-end D.T. Shackelford said. “He’s always been on top of it.”
Nutt says he’s on top of this one a little more, making sure that he or someone on his staff referenced this week beginning almost immediately after last year’s loss.
There has been no countdown clock that MSU coach Dan Mullen used to motivate his players between 2008 and 2009, but there have been quotes on locker room walls, constant mentions by staff.
“They’ve all said their piece about it,” tailback Brandon Bolden said, “each of them at different times. We were all embarrassed by what happened last year in all aspects, offense, defense and special teams.”
The embarrassment went straight to the top, and now Nutt, with the sub-.500 team this year facing the bowl-bound Bulldogs will try to harness the emotion that Mullen did last year.
“That was a bitter pill to swallow, and it’s the reverse now,” Nutt said.
WR Harris suspended
- Nutt announced that a player will miss the Mississippi State game Monday, the second such announcement in two days.
Sophomore wide receiver Melvin Harris will not play against Mississippi State because of a team rules violation, joining the suspension list that also includes linebacker Brandon Sanders, cornerback Tony Grimes, defensive end Delvin Jones and linebacker Clarence Jackson.
On Sunday Nutt announced that tailback Rodney Scott had left the team and that he intended to speak with Scott and his father after the season.
Harris, a 6-foot-7 third-year sophomore, was the surprise of August camp and is currently the team’s leading receiver with 30 catches for 408 yards and three TDs.
In addition to the suspensions, running back Darius Barksdale and offensive lineman Rishaw Johnson have been removed from the team this season.
‘The School Up North’ responds
- The refusal of Mullen to use the name “Ole Miss” or even “Mississippi,” as previous MSU coach Jackie Sherrill referred to the Rebels, has gotten under the skin of Ole Miss tailback Brandon Bolden, who says it’s “pretty much” a slap at his school.
“That’s not the name we have across our jerseys or across anything we have,” said Bolden, who indicated that Nutt also does not like the reference.
On Sunday, Nutt characterized his relationship with Mullen as professional but not overly substantive when professional occasions cause them to breathe the same air.
“We see each other at Destin for the SEC coaches meetings or at the AFCA convention in January. It’s just a nice hello, good to see you and all that. It’s not a real deep conversation.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.