Yesterday, while all of the college football watching world's eyes were focused on Glendale, the shake-ups of the Ole Miss Rebel coaching staff, the possibility of which Houston Nutt has alluded to ever since the Egg Bowl, began. Dave Rader will no longer be the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Ole Miss Rebels, with that duty now going to David Lee (wiki), the quarterbacks coach of the Miami Dolphins.
But that's not all. Houston Nutt has said that, with this move, he is handing the primary play-calling duties over to Lee so that Nutt may focus more on the team as a whole. The former development is hardly drastic, considering that a mediocre pro-set quarterbacks coach is being swapped out for a mediocre spread-option quarterbacks coach - which one would hope to be beneficial to the skillsets of Randall Mackey and Barry Brunetti. But the latter, if true, is a huge change in Nutt's coaching philosophy.
For much of his coaching career, Coach Nutt has essentially been both the head coach and offensive coordinator of his teams. He has determined offensive philosophy, heavily influenced the offensive depth chart, and called his own plays. All of that wild, floppy gesticulation you see on the sidelines during games isn't just Coach Nutt feeling the Holy Spirit; it's somehow him telling the quarerbacks what to do. And while he will still undoubtedly have a very heavy influence over playcalling, he at least claims that such will no longer be his primary responsibility. There will be no co-offensive coordination, as there was with Markuson and Rader this past season. There will just be David Lee.
At least, that is what we are being told. I do find it hard to believe that Nutt is just going to relenquish playcalling altogether. Considering that David Lee is a former employee of Coach Nutt at Arkansas, I would expect Nutt to have more influence here than other non-coordinating head coaches, but I am actually alright with that. Remember, it wasn't the offense that struggled this past season. The offense was certainly inconsistent and, at times, very frustrating to watch, but it's not as if the Rebels were entirely unable to score. Depending on how well a spread-option offense works with either Mackey or Brunetti out of the shotgun (lean heavily on the former), this could end up being a fairly good move for the program.
Or it could all just blow the hell up in our faces and make us look like idiots. Again. But, at the very least, Nutt's making moves this offseason which show both humility and a wee bit of desperation, two things would expect out of a head coach who knows his seat is warming up.