Houston Nutt Weighs In On Petrino Firing: 'Arkansas Is A Good Job. It's A Hard Job.'

by Chris Bahn  on Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2012 9:29 am  

Former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt appeared on the Tim Brando show to discuss the firing of Bobby Petrino as Razoraback football coach. (Photo by CBSSPorts.com)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Houston Nutt grew up in Little Rock. He played and coached at Arkansas.

So Nutt, like many in college football circles, has kept a close eye on the happenings in Fayetteville the last two weeks. Nutt was recently on the Tim Brando Show [video here]  to offer his thoughts on the firing of Bobby Petrino and the uncertainty that faces the current staff.

Below is a partial transcript of Brando’s questions and full (or close to full) answers from Nutt:

Brando: “You’re an Arkansan. You live there. You must know what they’re feeling like. … I’d love to hear what your comments are in regard to your old workplace and Jeff Long in particular.”

Nutt: “First thing that my heart goes out for, No. 1, are the players. You think about the players and the things they’re going through and what they’re thinking. ‘Who is going to be the next coach?’ You think about the assistants and their families and what they’re going through. ‘Who is going to be my next boss? Am I going to get to stay?’ And all of those things. Boy, there’s a lot of questions and that’s what you hate about this situation is because of the uncertainty in a lot of areas there. But it starts, to me, with the players who have given so much. And they’ve done a good job up there. Especially the last two years. So you just want everything to be right. As far as Jeff Long, he has a very, very difficult decision. Does he keep one of the coaches there, keep everything going, especially when you have Tyler Wilson, one of the best in the country. He’s tough. He’s accurate. He’s a winner as he’s proven. You hate to see him come in and have to learn a different playbook in a short period of time. That’s for everybody. It’s just difficult.

“Arkansas is a good job. It’s a hard job, but it’s a good job. … I don’t know exactly what’s going on and you hear different rumors about [Athletic Director Jeff Long is] going out to go get a big-name coach, which he probably could do. But the problem is the timing. The timing of everything now, as you know. It’s right here in the middle of April. Most coaches are getting ready to finish up a spring game and get ready for recruiting in May and all of these things. It makes everything very tough. The interim position, there’s been talk of Tim Horton, who is a former Razorback, who has held recruiting together. I know when we left he did an unbelievable job of keeping all the recruits there at home. So there’s been talk about him, what people have told me. I don’t know that much about it, just a little bit of what I read, but I just know it’s difficult. Again, my heart goes to the players and I know there are some fans there that are hurting.”

Brando: “… How much harder is it going to be for [an in-house interim] to do his job and then be, quote, the “face and voice of the program? …”

Nutt: “Tim, you hit it. That’s the biggest point that you hit. If you keep the interim, if you keep a coach there and you’re talking about now taking over the responsibility of being the voice, being the face, talking to the media, and your time is divvied up, it’s almost better if you go ahead and say, ‘I’m going to hire another coach to take my spot and now I’m going to concentrate on being the manager. On game day I’m going to be the face. I’m really going to take care of and get close to these players and take care of the media.’ It probably would be the best way to do it instead of trying to, ‘Oh I’m going to keep my same job. I can still do it.’ It’s easier said than done. That’s why I’m glad you brought that point up, Tim. Until you’ve actually done it, until you’ve actually done it, sit in the seat, little harder than you think.”

Brando: “Tyler Wilson, he could have gone pro… That’s what Jeff Long’s greatest concern is now, helping that young man be all he stacks up to be. We’re talking about a Heisman frontrunner now. … You’ve got to give

Nutt: “That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. You want him comfortable. You want him feeling good. I’m hearing he’s having an excellent spring, throwing the ball better than ever. And you want him comfortable going into August. You’re exactly right. He’s your leader. He’s the guy that is going to make it happen for you.”

Nutt’s time at Arkansas didn’t end well. Give him credit for showing some empathy and restraint and not piling on the program.



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