One of the memorable moments of the 2008 NCAA college football season was Tim Tebow’s speech after the Florida Gators only loss of the season. The speech was talked about all season long as it motivated the Gators to win a National Championship. Lost in all of this was the team that beat Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators, the Ole Miss Rebels. In 2008 Houston Nutt was the new head coach for the Ole Miss Rebels. Nutt’s first season went about as good as it could go. A few disappointing losses probably cost Houston Nutt any consideration for coach of the year but both the Ole Miss Rebels and Houston Nutt are looking for more in the 2009 NCAA college football season.
Not many college football fans expected Ole Miss to be good this quickly, but it was certainly expected that Houston Nutt would do some good things at Ole Miss and would eventually be a coach of the year candidate. After all this wasn’t Nutt’s first head coaching job. Houston Nutt has been a head coach in NCAA college football since 1993. His first job was at Murray State where Nutt turned a 4 – 7 team to a team that went 22 – 3 in his last two seasons.
Houston Nutt had a brief stay at Boise State before joining the Arkansas Razorbacks. Houston Nutt spent 10 years as the Arkansas Razorbacks coach. Nutt’s overall record was 75 – 48 including four seasons of 9 wins or more. In 2006 Houston Nutt probably deserved Coach of the Year consideration. The Razorbacks had 10 wins that season. Arkansas did lose four games but they lost a non-conference opener to 11 – 2 USC, then won 11 games in a row before getting beat by 11 – 2 LSU in the season finale. Arkansas then fell in the SEC Championship to the 13 – 1 Florida Gators and the Captial One bowl against 12 – 1 Wisconsin. During Houston Nutt’s 10 years as head coach the Arkansas Razorbacks only had two losing seasons.
Houston Nutt had a good resume as a NCAA college football head coach when he joined the Ole Miss Rebels but I’m not sure anybody expected the Rebels to be this good this quick. Not only did the Ole Miss Rebels beat the Florida Gators in the Swamp but they also had a Cotton Bowl win over Texas Tech. Texas Tech’s only other loss was to the Oklahoma Sooners. Ole Miss also defeated LSU 31 – 13 and they gave the Crimson Tide their toughest game of the regular season.
Things look even brighter for Houston Nutt and the Ole Miss Rebels in 2009. The biggest advantage the Ole Miss Rebels have is their quarterback. The LSU Tigers, Georgia Bulldgos and Alabama Crimson Tide are all breaking in new quarterbacks. The Rebels’ Jevon Snead is really the only proven quarterback in the SEC other than Tim Tebow and Ole Miss doesn’t have to worry about Tebow and the Gators seeking revenge in the regular season.
The schedule also looks favorable for the Ole Miss Rebels and their head coach Houston Nutt. The Florida Gators rotate off the schedule and Tennessee rotates on instead. Tennessee is normally a good team but there are a lot of question marks this season. Even if Tennessee is good Ole Miss can take solace in the fact that they get the Volunteers at home. The Rebels’ two toughest division opponents, Alabama and LSU, will also have be at home. Arkansas, a team many are picking as a sleeper, is also a home game for Ole Miss. The Rebels’ toughest road game will probably be against Auburn, but the Tigers aren’t the tough opponent they were a few years ago.
It looks quite possible that Ole Miss has a schedule easy enough to go undefeated in the regular season. The Rebels did lose to Vanderbilt and South Carolina last year, two teams they should have beat. Head coach Houston Nutt will have to motivate his Rebels to show in 2009 that they can beat the teams they are supposed to beat. Alabama probably takes a step back and LSU isn’t quite there yet. Ole Miss can lose once, maybe even twice (as long as one of those losses isn’t to Alabama), and still win the SEC West division. The quick rise to the top in the SEC should get Houston Nutt consideration for the Coach of the Year. Unfortunately for the Rebels and Houston Nutt, Tim Tebow and the Gators will be waiting for revenge in the SEC Championship game.