CATEGORY: FOC College Football
HED:The right men for their coaching jobs
By Todd Vinyard
OXFORD - Tommy Tuberville and Houston Nutt have been linked before.
They worked together as assistants at Arkansas State for the month of May in 1984. Then Nutt took a job at Oklahoma State as wide receivers coach.
The brief encounter was nothing like what happened last December. Tuberville's name was reported as the leading candidate for the Arkansas coaching job during a wild two-day period.
Tuberville, a Camden, Ark., native, announced Dec. 10 last year he had turned down the job and was staying at Ole Miss. News reports had Arkansas' offer as high as $5.1 million for seven years, while Tuberville, who makes around $450,000 a year at Ole Miss, would not say how much money was offered. Nutt, then at Boise State, took over the Razorbacks. Arkansas school officials said Tuberville was never offered the job.
Saturday the two coaches' teams meet at 11:30 a.m. in Fayetteville in a game broadcast by Jefferson-Pilot (WCBI-TV, Comcast Cable channel 13). No. 10 Arkansas (7-0 overall, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) and Ole Miss (6-2, 3-2 SEC) will have a lot to say about the Western Division race winner. And the subplot, whether Tuberville and Nutt like it or not, will be last year's coaching search.
"It will be talked about," Tuberville said. "The thing I don't want it to do is take away from the two teams this week, because both teams are playing great. One team is ranked, and we're trying to be ranked. It was just one of those things that happened over a couple of days."
Tuberville says things worked out for both sides.
"Obviously, they got the right guy for the job," said Tuberville, 1-2 at Ole Miss against Arkansas. "He's doing a super job, and I have a good job here. Houston and I may talk about it before the game, but that is all it should be talked about. Things like that happen in this profession."
"I am proud they are 7-0," Tuberville said before adding, "I am glad they are winning all these games, I just hope they lose the next one."
Nutt brushed off the idea of maybe being Arkansas' second choice at the SEC preseason media days.
"You were hearing a lot of talk during that time," Nutt said. "I'm just glad to be the coach at Arkansas and have the opportunity to represent this school."
Rebel players had some anxious moments last year before the Motor City Bowl wondering if Tuberville would represent them.
"I was pretty nervous," Ole Miss center Matt Luke said. "You don't want to lose a coach the quality of coach Tuberville."
Luke knows Arkansas players and fans will probably remember the December coach courting episode.
"They are going to want to play against coach Tuberville, and they will be fired up," Luke said. "They are going to come in ready to play. And we'll have to do the same."