I'm pretty tired of all of this. I'm pretty tired of having to defend Houston Nutt and I'm pretty tired of having to defend my alma mater for hiring the guy. But, let me say this again: Houston Nutt does not fail under expectations. Or, at least this letdown of a season isn't so much his fault in particular.
"Now, Ghost, how can you say that, especially after having seen the season that just transpired? And look at what he did at Arkansas!"
Well, first of all, the notion of failed expectations at Arkansas was proven completely bunk by the gentle sirs at Team Speed Kills months ago. And secondly, as I have argued before, collapsing under pressure is hardly a Houston Nutt issue; it's an Ole Miss issue, and it has been such since before any one of we Cuppers were even born.
Yet, despite this, message board posters, mainstream media types, bloggers, and anyone with an outlet for their (misguided) opinions on college football continue to beat the "Houston Nutt doesn't win under pressure" drum. Here, once again, are some pieces which should really be required reading for anybody attempting to follow, cover, or even understand Ole Miss Rebel athletics:
- A Treatise on Rebel Athletics
- The Ole Miss Rebels: The Buffalo Bills of College Baseball
- SAME OLE MISS, SAME OLD MESS
- "The Shot (Wikipedia)"
- 1970's Sports Illustrated preview of the Rebels football team
Pay special attention to that last article. Did you notice how it read:
Judging from the Ole Miss schedule, nothing else much should bug Archie or his teammates this season...Moreover, seven of the 10 games will be played on one or the other of Ole Miss' three "home" fields—in Memphis, Jackson and Oxford. If the Rebs get past Alabama on Oct. 3 in Jackson, they should be unbeaten going into their final—and most challenging—game, against LSU on Dec. 5 in Baton Rouge's howling Tiger Stadium. Oh, yes, freshmen, one more thing: plan on spending New Year's Day at a bowl game.
Did you? Is that not almost the exact same language we saw in just about every one of this season's preview magazines? History repeats itself again.
Oh, and for those who aren't aware, the Rebels finished 7-3 that year with losses to Southern Miss, State, and LSU. They didn't go bowling.
So, for disgruntled Rebel fans, groupthink-shackled media folks, and stupid ass SEC rivals, don't take the easy way out. This especially goes out to my fellow sporters of the Yale Blue and Harvard Crimson. Let's take a frank look at ourselves here: we all, against our best judgement, bought into the Rebel hype this year. Most of us cannot recall a time when the gridiron Rebels were so highly thought of by the mainstream sports media and we let it get to our heads. We all knew, somewhere deep inside, that this would likely all come crashing down. But we suppressed that because, "hey, this is fun, what with ESPN saying all of these neat things about us and Jevan Snead!!11"
I know it is going to sting a little, but say it with me: "So long as Ole Miss is favored to win something, it won't. Ever. There is something longstanding and subliminal about our sports programs which will ensure this. We'll continue to lose games, yet never lose parties."
No, I truly posit that this season is not Houston Nutt's fault. Such a line of thinking is exactly along the lines of Arkansas fans--along with some outsiders--claiming that Houston Nutt is not good at coaching his team during bowl games. They, of course, are using his 2-6 bowl record while the head coach of the Razorbacks as their argument's basis; but that completely ignores the fact that, as a program, Arkansas has always been poor in postseason play. Before Nutt even arrived to coach in Fayetteville, the Hogs "boasted" a 9-16-3 (.321 winning percentage) record in bowl play. It is easy for them to say "Coach Nutt lost those bowl games." It isn't so easy to say "there is seriously some longstanding, institutional problem with our football program which is not at all looking to change anytime soon."
I'm sorry, Rebels. We are...Ole Miss. Again.
Oh yes, I do very much realize that this is a fairly pathetic, defeatist attitude. But until any Ole Miss athletics program give me reason to approach Rebel athletics in a different manner, this will be my take. I know that's not exactly "changing the culture of Ole Miss athletics," but, considering our stereotypical ineptitude towards change, it's more appropriate than most of us are willing to admit.