It's been a tough season for the Ole Miss football team. After last week's humiliating 52-14 loss at Tennessee, the Rebels (4-6) must win their last two games against LSU (2:30 p.m., Saturday, Ch. 12) and Mississippi State (6 p.m., Nov. 27, ESPNU) to qualify for a bowl game.
But the weirdest event of the season might have been coach Houston Nutt's weekly press conference on Monday. Nutt opened his meeting with the media with a lengthy, impassioned statement. He wasn't answering a question (not from a reporter, anyway) and he mystified reporters.
"Lets go back and talk about the start of the year, this season has not gone like we had planned for it to. It all started with that first game. With the amount of players we lost this year, we all knew that this would be a difficult year. But, what we didn't plan on was three knee surgeries, four concussions and losing a leader like Kentrell Lockett. I just want to remind our fans that it had been 50 years since Ole Miss won back-to-back January 1 bowl games. I'm excited that we have 12 freshmen playing. I am excited about the future. I know in my heart, now more than ever, that we can get to Atlanta. I know we can, because I know that we can recruit here; we have proven that our last two seasons. What we didn't plan on was our first game and a few others putting us in a tailspin. It's my fault. We were not as ready as we should have been, but I see a lot of hope. I am excited about these next two games. I remember the day I got here; I didn't see any life or hope. I do not want that to come back on our guys now. We have two games left, and a lot of these guys have been doing great things for the past couple of years.
It is easy to dwell on the negative. It is easy to sit up on the 50-yard line and point out the bad and embarrassing. I was the first one to say Saturday was embarrassing. If you think that you are hurting, you should be in my shoes. I am sick to my stomach when I think about the Tennessee game, because we planned on winning that game. Do you think that Florida or Georgia is happy? In this league, the greatest league in America, there will be a year where things just don't go right. But, it is not all gloom and doom. That is the difficult thing about the world we live in; I have 18 and 19 year old players who believe everything they hear outside these walls. I have to turn the negative around to positive inside these walls. It is all about this family, this football family, and we have some outstanding recruits. Recruiting is still going good. The last two signing classes have been very good, and I think this one will be the best yet.
I planned on having seven wins at this point in the season, six at the worst. The bottom line is that we are not there, but I am not going to allow my players to be gloom and doom. They need to remember that they have been a part of something great. It was not too long ago when everyone was patting them on the back for winning back-to-back Cotton Bowls. I just want to tell our fans that there are good things getting ready to happen. I want to tell our players that also and to keep their heads up. The good thing about football is that it teaches you all that you need to know about life. There is no sin in getting knocked down; the sin is when you stay down. I want to make sure that our coaches are going as hard as we can with all of our energy and effort. We need to make sure the players are taking the correct step, the proper stance, and the perfect read. They do not need to play tight; they need to turn it loose. If you look at our best games, we have turned it loose. It has always been that way with us.
We are getting ready to play one of the best teams in America, LSU. LSU has one of the finest defenses I have ever seen. It starts with their front, their front is outstanding. They are big, huge, fast, and give up very few points. They have real speed from the front to the backers to the back ends. Offensively they have weapons at the wideout and they have a good offensive line. They also have good special teams. We are playing the No. 5 team in the nation. We have to get ready."
What is so nuts? He was telling the truth and in a little coach speak he was saying Mississippi is not going back to the Coach-O years.
That was about as honest as I have ever heard a head coach. He owned the fact that his team has not preformed up to his standars or fans.
Give the man credit.
- Bryan Flynn