Unless you’ve been unplugged on a sugar-white sand beach somewhere or helping the bag man organize payments in a remote hunting cabin in Pontotoc County where there’s no cell service, you’re aware of Houston Nutt’s lawsuit against Ole Miss. Nutt is suing Ole Miss because he claims they violated the terms of their severance agreement, which is the same agreement that would eventually allow him to be paid $4.35 million to stop destroying the football program.
Without wading too deeply into the weeds, lest we get lost and left to die, Section 8 of the severance agreement says that Ole Miss is prohibited from making any statement about Nutt’s tenure in Oxford that “may damage or harm his reputation at a football coach.” If you’re screaming, “GRAY, YOU MADE A TYPO SMH YOU IDIOT,” I would like to remind you that this is a document filed by Houston Nutt in Mississippi federal court and attention to detail is not one of his strengths.
The beneficiary of contract wizard Jimmy Sexton — who was Nutt’s agent at the time he signed with Ole Miss — claims that Ole Miss, most notably Hugh Freeze and Ross Bjork, broke the severance agreement when they allegedly told media members and recruits that many of the charges in the first notice of allegations (there have been two!) from the NCAA were the result of the previous staff, which was allegedly run by Nutt.
When Ole Miss current athletics personnel pointed back to the previous staff as being the creator of these charges, Nutt wants the court to believe this action caused damage to his reputation as a football coach, meaning no one would hire his dumb ass to run a program because he’s now “dirty.”
While we can spend many an hour speculating on whether Nutt has a legitimate claim, it’s difficult to make a call without seeing the severance agreement, which we likely never will because Nutt filed it under seal. However, if you want to go down that road, I would refer you to the army of Twitter lawyers and real lawyers who could offer some assistance in that area.
What I want to do is really dig in to the details that Nutt and his lawyer so carefully crafted, much like the SMEAR CAMPAIGN RUN BY ROSS BJORK AND HUGH FREEZE AGAINST A NOT-AT-ALL-PARANOID HOUSTON NUTT. And to do that, we must begin with the facts.
As I mentioned earlier, attention to detail as a strength for Houston Dale Nutt falls somewhere between him running an offense and him speaking in sensical sentences. Seven words into the facts, and we already have a problem.
Is that the .edu site? The Ole Miss Pharmacy School website? The club frisbee site? To be clear, they copied and pasted what was written under Nutt’s head coaching bio and didn’t bother to do the same with the OleMissSports.com URL that was like three inches above the CV on their screen. You do not spell “fun” “a-t-t-e-n-t-i-o-n t-o d-e-t-a-i-l” (FUN FACT: his bio is still up!).
Incredibly, just over three pages in, we come to what is probably the lawsuit’s finest phrase:
Nutt and his lawyer are certainly using the definition of “good standing” that essentially says he had no legal baggage that would’ve prevented him from getting another job, just the baggage of going 6-18 over his final two years and winning a single SEC game out of 16 attempts, as documented here, here, and probably elsewhere on this very website. Not to mention the non-existent team discipline, expanding academic disaster, and overall morale that hovered somewhere below Ed Orgeron’s third year in Oxford.
But, hey, at least someone was in good standing and not in the pit of hell below the first 12 pits of hell!
As the document continues with the facts, we are introduced to some key figures. First, there’s Ross Bjork:
Pretty straightforward. Then there’s Kyle Campbell:
Accurate summary. Finally, there’s Hugh Freeze. Surely he’ll get an equally brief and simple introduction, right?
LOL NOPE. We’ve got a quick identification of Freeze, followed by a swerve across five lanes of traffic specifically to smash Freeze into the guardrail. THERE’S the petty Houston Nutt I watched for four years. MAKE THEM PRY THAT PETTINESS OUT OF YOUR COLD, DEAD HANDS, HOOTIE.
Now, let’s take a quick timeout to remind ourselves that the NCAA’s investigation of Ole Miss started in 2012, which was two presidential elections ago, and focused on women’s basketball.
If you’re trying to do the math, a current sophomore in college could not drive when the NCAA first came after the Cheatin Bears. But sure, this is a fair and just process that is not at all related to personal crusades by people who have ignored their own rules of procedure.
Anyway, as one moves further down the document, you find that paragraphs 23-26 explain how successful college football programs are run. I assume this was included so Houston could refresh his mind on how to do something he didn’t bother to do in his last two years of employment at Ole Miss.
For those of you who were hoping for a paragraph that could’ve been written by any of the thousands of people who are permanently #madonline about Hugh Freeze’s existence, you’re in luck.
Claims of thin-skin? Check. Defensive behavior? Check. Hypocrite? Check. Manipulation? Check. Organized a large-scale smear campaign to destroy a washout coach that had zero job offers in the three years before he claimed said smear campaign took away his job opportunities? YOU KNOW IT’S A CHECK.
Minus the organized smear campaign, which would be impossible for Nutt to pull off because it requires, you know, organization and not being stupid, that paragraph could perfectly describe Houston Nutt, if you added extreme paranoia.
Nutt and his lawyer move on from Freeze and present their evidence, which consists of pointing out all the times they believe Ole Miss damaged Nutt’s coaching reputation. Of note in this run of paragraphs is the strategy of using retweets, which helped the campaign of misinformation spread across the land.
183 retweets? That ain’t even viral, fam.
Finally, Nutt gets to the part where he wants that money.
(Note: punitive damages were also included)
It’s hard to believe anything could result in an embarrassment greater than the self-inflicted wound of being outscored 110-13 in your final three games as a coach at the FBS level (after being fired prior to the last three games), and such an embarrassment that it requires financial compensation. In fact, in the final two games Nutt coached, which were against rival SEC teams, he was outscored 83-6.
The last touchdown scored by a Houston Nutt team occurred with 8:53 to play in the first quarter of the first of those final three games, which was against Louisiana Tech. That’s 173 minutes of no touchdowns for a fired coach who was definitely going to get phone calls from eager athletic directors all over the country after he cratered a football program.
If only there were some evidence outside of the aforementioned 6-18 (1-15 SEC) run that could be included in Ole Miss’ defense as to why no one would actually hire Nutt. Yes, it would be ideal if Houston Nutt himself coughed up that reason, but that’s gonna be pretty impossible to ge—
Oh wait, here’s exactly that.
(pause to laugh at “I always got calls”)
According to Houston, in January of the Year of our Lord two thousand and seventeen, he got no calls with job offers to be a head coach because he took a year off in 2012. It was not because of a smear campaign that he has now alleged to have been taking place since 2014, but because people wanted competent offensive coordinators and not a 6-18 coach who was fired for being historically horrible at his job.
Some six months later, after describing why he hasn’t gotten any calls, he has apparently decided it was definitely the fault of a smear campaign conspiracy that wanted to deprive him of the ability to go 3-33 at New Mexico State and steal money from them, both before and after getting fired. Never one to dismiss hustle, I wish the best of luck to him in future money-stealing endeavors.