Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Enthusiasm boiling over

Houston Nutt took over an Ole Miss football program that went 3-9 last season and failed to win a single SEC game. In SEC play, the Rebels finished last in both points-scored and points-allowed.

Through seven games this season, the Rebels have shown dramatic improvement. Coach Nutt's Ole Miss team upset No. 4 Florida and nearly upset No. 2 Alabama last weekend.

One reason for the quick turnaround is Coach Nutt's intensely positive attitude. As one former co-worker described it:

“Just enthusiasm boiling over. I don’t think there’s a negative bone in his body. Always positive about a player, how the game is going, how the season is going to develop. He’s positive about everything.”

Says Alabama coach Nick Saban: “His teams always play physical, they’re always tough, they always play hard, they always compete well in a game. Never are they out of the game.”

According to Hall of Fame coach Frank Broyles: “The public doesn’t understand that every coach coaches with individual instincts best suited to him, that he has to use to motivate the team to achieve peak performances. Houston is a terrific motivator. He has closeness and caring relationship with his team, and he encourages.”

Coach Nutt's creativity makes it difficult on opponents to prepare. According to one former opponent:

“He throws a whole different style of football at you. It’s always something different. He knows the game of football real well, and he knows how to change things up, throw defenses off, make you prepare for a lot of different things, which is hard. You don’t know, with him, what’s coming at you.”

As for Coach Nutt, he points to two keys: Being prepared and having the proper attitude.

“I think it’s preparation. It’s an attitude of taking your 70 guys and going into one of the toughest environments, most hostile environments in the country, and it’s a focus. It’s a belief of one play at a time, that we can do it.”