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Ghosts of Recruiting Present: Houston Nutt, Reality Show

Feb 2, 2009 – 5:00 PM
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Brian Grummell

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FanHouse's lead-up to college football's signing day makes like Charles Dickens and looks at the Ghosts of Recruiting -- past, present and future. In the Ghosts of Recruiting Present, we document prominent recruiting makes and misses that changed programs

Thanks to his revival of Ole Miss, Houston Nutt has quickly escaped his not-so-excellent adventures in Arkansas becoming his legacy. Nutt had a nice run at Arkansas, but what went down those last two years was just insane and while helping rope in a handful of great players -- some no longer on the team -- he also lost the state's three best players the next year, lost his job and certainly contributed to the resignation of longtime athletic director and legendary former coach Frank Broyles.

We won't even get into the weird Freedom of Information Act revelations and the tell-all book, but there are some people no longer at Arkansas, who loved Arkansas, who don't want to talk about what happened at Arkansas, all of which says a great deal about what happened under Nutt's direction.

Notably, high school football coach and offensive "wizard" Gus Malzahn was brought in to be Arkansas' offensive coordinator. Coincidentally, cough cough, cough, ahem, cough, Malzahn was also trusted coach for a handful of offensive recruits who eventually signed with the Razorbacks.

From there, it appears a bait-and-switch happened, as Arkansas swiftly ditched Malzahn's wide-open offense for a grinding attack featuring the Hogs' two star tailbacks. Later, monster quarterback recruit Mitch Mustain was benched almost immediately late in the year against South Carolina despite a flawless 8-0 record as starter. It was later revealed that Mustain was made to parade before teammates and apologize for comments critical of Nutt during his recruitment that were revealed in a book.

By the end of that season, one of the best in recent Arkansas memory, Malzahn, Mustain and wide receiver Damian Williams had all left the program.

That spring, the state's top three football recruits -- offensive tackle Lee Ziemba, now a star at Auburn, quarterback Kodi Burns, also a star at Auburn, and tailback Broderick Green who recently left USC -- spurned the Razorbacks.

Do the math.

And so it came to be that native son Houston Nutt resigned from the program and took over at Ole Miss. Job-hopping NFL bridge burner Bobby Petrino is now Arkansas' head coach.

Be sure to check out the entire Ghosts of Recruiting series leading up to college football's national letter of intent day

Previously in Ghosts of Recruiting

Ghosts of Recruiting Past: Pac-10 Also-Rans Washington and UCLA
Ghosts of Recruiting Past: Big 12 Slumpers Colorado and Texas A&M
Ghosts of Recruiting Past: Former Masters Miami and Florida State
Ghosts of Recruiting Past: Aging, Embattled Warriors Pitt and Syracuse
Ghosts of Recruiting Past: Virginia and Michigan State Rounds Things Out
Ghosts of Recruiting Present: Steve Slaton, Maryland Terrapin?
Ghosts of Recruiting Present: Ryan Perilloux is Drama for All
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