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Arkansas ends search, hires Houston Nutt

Former Oklahoma State University football player and coach, Houston Nutt, has left Boise State University to take the head coaching position at the University of Arkansas.  

 

On Wednesday, the Razorbacks announced the hiring of Nutt in a press conference in Little Rock. 

 

According to published reports in the Tulsa World and Arkansas Democrate-Gazette, Nutt was chosen after Tommy Tuberville of Mississippi declined the Razorbacks offer of a reported $875,000.  

 

Nutt, Tuberville, Miami's Butch Davis and OSU coach Bob Simmons were considered the leading candidates as of Tuesday night. 

 

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Tuesday that Simmons was interviewed in Stillwater by the University of Arkansas coaching search committee last week. 

 

Simmons was in meetings all day and could not be reached for comment. OSU Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips was in New York for the College Football Foundation Hall of Fame dinner.  

 

Phillips confirmed last week that he had given Arkansas permission to talk to Simmons about its vacancy.  

 

The University of Arkansas declined to release the names of those coaches who were officially interviewed for the position. 

 

Unlike published reports had said, Nutt was the only candidate offered the job. 

 

"I can tell you that no job was offered to anyone other than Houston Nutt at the University of Arkansas," said John White, chancellor of the University. "He came to us as a unanimous recommendation and the number one candidate." 

 

Nutt has prepared for this day for a long time. 

 

"I feel like I've been trained for this day for 16 years," Nutt said during the press conference to announce his hiring. "I'll go from daylight all the way to exhaustion to make this the best Razorback football team and I can't wait to get started." 

 

A native of Little Rock, Nutt returns home to Arkansas where he began his college playing career where he lettered two seasons in football and started at quarterback as a true freshman. Nutt also lettered one year in basketball. While he was at Arkansas, Nutt played under Lou Holtz and current OSU basketball coach Eddie Sutton. 

 

After two seasons with the Razorbacks, Nutt transferred to OSU where he lettered one season in football under Jimmy Johnson and graduated in 1981 receiving his bachelor's degree in physical education. 

 

His first coaching experience also came at OSU in 1981 and 1982 as a graduate assistant coaching the secondary and running backs.  

 

After a two year period when Nutt coached at Arkansas, he returned to Stillwater where he was an assistant coach for six seasons.  

 

He coached the wide receivers in 1984 and added the responsibility of the quarterbacks in 1985 and was the Cowboy's offensive coordinator by 1989. 

 

"I have had a long association with Houston dating back to our days at Oklahoma State," said Jimmy Johnson, current Miami Dolphin coach and former OSU coach in a release by the University of Arkansas. "He has a great commitment to the game, to young men and to winning. There is no doubt in my mind Houston Nutt will be successful." 

 

Nutt again returned to the Arkansas football program as the wide receivers coach in 1990 where he stayed for three seasons before moving onto Murray State in 1992. 

 

"I had an opportunity to work with Houston at Oklahoma State," said former OSU assistant coach and Chicago Bear head coach Dave Wannstedt. "He was just breaking into the coaching ranks and he had one of the most innovative offensive minds of anybody I've ever been around. 

 

"He was as fine a recruiter as we had on our staff." 

 

Nutt replaces Danny Ford who was fired Nov. 29 after his second consecutive 4-7 season. Ford led the Razorbacks to an appearance in the Southeastern Conference championship game in 1995. 

 

Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles, then the Razorbacks football coach, recruited Nutt out of high school. 

 

Nutt was hired at Boise State on Dec. 27, 1996 as the sixth head coach for the Broncos but leaves before one year expired on his contract. 

 

Before Boise State, Nutt was the head coach at Murray State University where he guided the racers to a 31-6 record and two straight Ohio Valley Conference Championships.