At last, dear friends, we have reached the summit of sadness. While the air up here lacks oxygen and hope, the conclusion of our summer-long countdown of the 10 saddest teams in modern Ole Miss football history means we can finally stop reminding ourselves of how awful things once were and instead rejoice in the thought of SWAG Kelly dropping 50-plus total touchdowns this year (AT A MINIMUM).
In the penultimate review from last week, we closed down the Ed Orgeron era and his winless shrimp trawl through the SEC in 2007. This week, as many of you correctly guessed, we watch as another era goes down in a grease fire that, if unchecked, would’ve burned down most of the lower 48 states.
Houston Nutt’s 2011 team wins the No. 1 spot in our sadness countdown with the same ease as Usain Bolt does when he races anyone. All of the teams in this countdown were trash, but this team was a bountiful feast of white-hot soggy garbage (TOTALLY POSSIBLE).
While researching for all of these posts (people who know me are stunned to learn that I have ever researched anything), I watched more displays of incompetence than I thought one football program could produce in 30-plus years, but the level of incompetence that Nutt achieved in 2011 leaves you in awe of his ability to be so bad at his job. The team winning two games should be the focus of a documentary about man’s struggle to succeed in the face of leadership that fell down an elevator shaft while on the way to a meeting that should’ve been replaced by a 100-word email to everyone.
After the 2010 season, which was lovely, Nutt decided that he should probably get moving on that whole recruiting thing. As a result, he managed to bring in the 20th-ranked class (possibly with the help of academic fraud!) to give fans the impression he wasn’t in a free fall.
Here’s what he had to say about that class:
As soon as that last whistle blew we went to work. If you had told me last November that we were going to have four U.S. Army All-Americans, eight members of the Dandy Dozen, the top five players in Mississippi and that 12 Mississippi players said they wanted to be Ole Miss Rebels, I don't know if I would have believed you.
...It starts with these players. I am really excited today with this new group that is coming in. I am very excited with our staff and where we are going.
I too would be excited about being months away from collecting buyout money from a job I did terribly.
So with “this new group” and excitement rattling around in his head, Nutt attempted to save his job in 2011. IT WAS A REAL GOOD TIME.
1) 2011 (2-10 overall, 0-8 SEC)
stats/schedule via olemisssports.com
We’ve seen some horrible numbers during this countdown, but what follows is a stat sheet covered in blood. Nutt’s team was outscored 292-93 in SEC games, meaning they lost conference games by an average score of 36.5-11.6, which “wasn’t no 49-10”, but pretty close.
Yardage stats can be deceiving, but I’ve included them in these countdown posts because the ocean of difference between Ole Miss and its opponents made me laugh.
The defense was out-rushed by 1,154 yards (2,699-1,545) and gave up 224.9 rushing yards per game (and 41 percent of third down attempts!). The offense averaged only 280.4 yards per game and gave up 34 sacks, which, with that defensive effort, helped opponents score 49 touchdowns to Ole Miss’ 24.
Quarterbacks Randall Mackey and Zack Stoudt, who shared time after Barry Brunetti was benched early in the year, combined their powers to complete just 49.1 percent of their passes, while throwing 13 interceptions and 9 touchdowns (A RETURN TO SINGLE DIGITS). In the first game of the season against BYU, Stoudt replaced Brunetti in the second quarter after multiple series of nothing, which eventually led to this:
THE STORY OF 2011 TOLD IN THE FIRST GAME.
Ole Miss would have one final chance with under a minute to play. Here was that final chance:
In review, no one knew who was supposed to be on the field, they didn’t line up correctly, 12 men ended up being on the field, and they didn’t try to complete a pass close to midfield to have a realistic attempt at a Hail Mary.
Again, THE STORY OF 2011 TOLD IN THE FIRST GAME.
After defeating 4-7 Southern Illinois (the defense gave up 435 yards even with SIU throwing four interceptions), Ole Miss traveled to Nashville and were promptly stomped in half by Vanderbilt, 30-7. Stoudt threw FIVE (5; FIVE; V) interceptions, with one of those being the most wounded of ducks:
The good news was that he only threw three more over the rest of the season!
Heading into the Alabama game, Ole Miss was 2-3 and winless in the SEC. In fact, they had lost eight straight conference games dating back to 2010. Despite Alabama being ranked number two, ESPN sensed there could be the magic of a Houston Nutt upset special in the air.
SURELY YOU JEST. The idea that this Ole Miss team could pull off such a wi-
RANDALL MACKEY THROWING DARTS(-ISH) AND SNOOP BRASSELL ON THE LOOSE LOOK OUT TIDE HERE THEY COME STRAP IT ON YOU’RE NOT REA-
Alas. Following Ole Miss’ opening touchdown, Alabama would score the game’s next 52 points. The Rebels’ best chance to score again came early in the fourth quarter when Nutt called on his old minimal-to-no-gain warhorse, Enrique Davis.
The 45-point loss to Alabama paved the way for a close loss against Arkansas and the peak Houston Nutt paranoia speech:
All he’s missing is a tin foil hat, a manifesto about the evils of government, and someone to show him how to create an account for a message board.
The next week, Auburn was blasting Nutt’s team 41-17 when he showed off my favorite side of his: being the only person alive who cares if you lose a blowout by 18 points rather than 24. Ole Miss had the ball at its own 42 with 1:11 to play (DOWN 24), yet he left the starters in to push for a worthless score.
The offense reached the Auburn five-yard line, and then Nutt’s organizational skills took over.
Incredibly, Ole Miss scored on the last play of the game to give Houston the 18-point loss he desperately wanted.
After losing to Kentucky one week later, Nutt was fired, but allowed to coach the final three games of the season because turning things over to an assistant just to see if the team would play for that coach was SO FOOLISH SHUT UP YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND THE INTRICACIES OF ATHLETIC DIRECTORING. In response to Nutt’s firing, the team was outscored 110-13 against Louisiana Tech, LSU, and Mississippi State.
They were so inspired that the final touchdown OF THE SEASON occurred with 8:53 to play in the first quarter against Louisiana Tech. That was on November 12th. The season ended on November 26th. If you’re unwilling to do the math, that’s 173 minutes (or 11 minutes shy of a full viewing of the timeless film classic Pearl Harbor, starring Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett) of touchdownless footballing.
But Houston Nutt wasn’t done. LOOK AT THIS SPEECH TO ALL THE BLANK STARES BEFORE THE LSU GAME:
In honor of Houston, let’s waste a timeout, a replay challenge, and someone’s redshirt year to cry from laughter over “LET’S GET READY TO BALL, HERE WE GO.”
In last week’s installment, we took a look at two of the worst interceptions ever thrown by mankind. Today, we add Zack Stoudt’s effort to that collection.
How about from another angle? WHY NOT.
Sadly, the internet has scrubbed video of Les Miles ordering his offense to kneel the ball four straight plays after a first and goal at Ole Miss’ one-yard line with five minutes left in the game, while leading 52-3*. Truly a dark day for those of us wanting to properly document the Houston Nutt experience.
*In 2011, Ole Miss lost to Alabama and LSU by a combined score of 104-10. In 2015, Ole Miss beat Alabama and LSU by a total of 27 points. That’s a 121-point turnaround in four years.
To close it all out, we go to Houston’s final humiliation in the Egg Bowl. Once again, we’re treated to him trying to cram in a worthless touchdown in a blowout loss.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the final play of the Houston Nutt era:
A perfect last play from a Houston Nutt offense. Didn’t line up correctly, blown protection, and a minimal gain. Quite the fitting end to his destruction of Ole Miss football.
However, let us not overlook the work of Bradley Sowell, who didn’t really want to play ball, but really did want to injure someone.
Thanks for that last heave of stupid bullshit in a season filled with it.
With that multi-level failure, the Houston Nutt era at Ole Miss came to its merciful end. There would be no more giggity or people heppin’, just a man who would go on to collect $4.35 million from Ole Miss.