Like many Husker fans, I was scratching my head 3 years ago when Steve Pederson sent a jet to Fayetteville to fly Houston Nutt to Lincoln as Nebraska's head football coach. Subsequent losing seasons by Arkansas made that debacle look even more questionable, especially when Nutt hired a high school coach as his offensive coordinator in order to get his prized 5-star quarterback to sign with the Razorbacks.
So imagine my surprise when Arkansas went on to have a great season, winning the SEC West, and star running back Darren McFadden being named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Looks like I was wrong about Nutt all along, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Yes, the Razorbacks had a successful season on the field, but things are unraveling for Nutt. Last month, a book about Springdale High's 2005 championship football team was announced, featuring some inflammatory quotes from now-Arkansas QB Mitch Mustain about Houston Nutt saying, in effect, that he'd be more likely to sign with Arkansas if Nutt was fired. Instead, Nutt hires Mustain's high school football coach, and Mustain signed with the Razorbacks.
However, once the quote made the rounds in Arkansas, Mustain was benched as Arkansas' starting quarterback and controversy ensued. Once the season ended, Mustain's mommy ran to Boss Hogg (Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles) to complain about Nutt's plans for her son. Today, Beck Campbell, Mustain's mom, issued a press release (boy, does this sound familiar) to the media to "clarify the situation". Another of Mustain's teammates from Springdale is planning to transfer from the Hawgs. And Nutt's name is once again bouncing around in coaching searches, this time for Alabama.
Now a running joke on the Arkansas campus is that Houston Nutt has turned down more jobs he was never offered than any other coach in history. Of course, whether or not Nebraska was ever one of those jobs "never offered" is still up for debate.
Wow... what a mess. It has all of the elements of the worst parts of athletics. Overactive parents, slimy recruiting, recruiting hype, and wouldn't you know, a link to Steve Pederson as well.