"Houston Nutt savors bittersweet taste of vindication in Ole Miss probe," reads the headline of Bruce Feldman's latest Fox Sports article, an interview with Nutt in the aftermath of the Rebel athletic program releasing the long-awaited NCAA notice of allegations. The general theme is that Nutt—who worked alongside Feldman as a CBS Sports analyst, mind you—was unfairly scapegoated as the primary culprit of the investigation and feels exonerated by the revelation that nine of the 13 football allegations pertain to Hugh Freeze and the current staff.
...Sources said in late January that the majority of the allegations stemmed from women's basketball, track and field and the Nutt regime, which technically is accurate since nine of the 28 total violations against the Rebels athletic program were on Freeze. But I can see why Nutt felt a measure of vindication after seeing how he was getting the blame despite the fact that nine of those 13 violations happened under his successor.
But at no point did the university ever publicly lump the majority of the allegations on Nutt. Less than 24 hours after the initial report broke back in January, AD Ross Bjork was careful to say that "many," not "most," of the allegations "date back to the former football staff in 2010."
"It's the most frustrating thing there is," Nutt told his buddy Feldman, "to be on the sidelines and hear your name keep getting mentioned and mentioned. It's hurtful. It makes you mad.
"I don't have a major violation in 30 years of coaching."
Funny you say that coach, because lets not forget that four of the 13 allegations against the football program are tied to your staff. And among those four is by far the most serious charge of the 13: allegations that your former assistants David Saunders and Chris Vaughn rigged ACT scores for recruits in 2010.
"There's not a better person to have around your son than (Chris Vaughn)," Nutt told Feldman. "I recruited him out of Tallahassee. He played for me at Murray State. Coached for me all those years at Arkansas and Ole Miss. I mean did he feed 'em? But outright cheating? I don't think that's in his DNA."
Huh, the NCAA sounds pretty damn sure that Vaughn instructed three recruits testing at Wayne County High to leave blank any questions they didn't know, so that a test supervisor working under instructions from Saunders could come back later and fill in the right answers. But hell, Hooty's got DNA evidence.
Saunders—a "quality, quality guy," according to Nutt—went off to Louisiana-Lafayette, where he was busted for more academic fraud and handed an eight-year show cause earlier this year. Vaughn was fired by Texas in March as soon as his name popped up in association with the Ole Miss probe.
But here's the best part: Nutt alleged out loud, to another human being, that a perception of his assistants as dirty might be what's keeping him from landing another head coaching job.
"I'm going on five years without a team. There were a few opportunities I went after. I'd love to coach again. I feel like I've got 10 more seasons in me."
Um, maybe that whole unemployment thing might have something to do with you running the Ole Miss program into the fucking ground by going 6-18 over your last two seasons.
But hey, you have a few less NCAA violations than Hugh Freeze, so you have that going for you.