Houston Nutt

It’s official: Houston Nutt to resign at season’s end; AD on way out, too

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Following up on rumors that have been swirling since Saturday night, Ole Miss has officially announced that a change at head coach will be made.

In a press conference Monday, athletic director (for now) Pete Boone confirmed that the 2011 season will be the last for Houston Nutt.  In his fourth year at the school, Nutt will coach the Rebels’ final three games before stepping down and giving way to a new sideline boss.

The decision to fire Nutt was made on Sunday.

“Our goal is to compete for championships, and we are not making progress in that regard,” said Boone in a statement. “It’s time for our team to have new leadership and a new direction.”

“My time at Ole Miss has been very special, and I’ve enjoyed working with a wonderful group of athletes and the Ole Miss community at large,” Nutt said.  “Change is never easy, but I understand why it’s necessary. My attention is on finishing out the 2011 season and winning this Saturday.”

In his fourth season at Ole Miss, Nutt has compiled a 24-23 overall mark, including an embarrassing 10-20 record in SEC play.  The Rebels’ current 12-game losing streak in conference play is a school record, besting the mark of eight straight set by the man he replaced, Ed Orgeron.

Additionally, Boone announced that he will step aside as athletic director within the next year.  Boone has come under increasing fire of late, with numerous individuals connected to the university seeking his ouster.

“When Coach Nutt arrived four years ago, I said publicly he would be the last coach I would hire. I meant it,” said Boone. “On several occasions over the past year, Chancellor Jones and I have discussed what would happen if a disappointing football season resulted in a coaching change, including whether a change would affect my timetable as athletics director.  When I decided we need new leadership in the football program, I knew it was also the right time for new leadership in the athletics department.”

“Pete Boone loves Ole Miss. I am grateful to Pete for his leadership of athletics, including his selfless decision to announce his plans for the future,” chancellor David Jones stated. “There will be other opportunities to acknowledge his contributions to the university, but I know we all recognize the significant progress in facilities we have made under his leadership and the vision he has provided for financing the next phase of facility improvement.”

It’s believed the buyout of Nutt’s contract is in the neighborhood of $6 million.  A five-member search committee has been formed to find Nutt’s replacement and will be co-chaired by Archie Manning and FedEx Executive Vice President Mike Glenn.

The committee, which will also head the search for Boone’s replacement, will make a recommendation to Jones, who will make the final decision.

In other words, the Rebels will likely hire a head coach before hiring his boss.  Yeah, that’ll work out well.

Former Illini rushing leader announces intent to transfer from Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 3: Ke'Shawn Vaughn #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini runs the ball against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Champaign, Illinois.  Illinois defeated Nebraska 14-13. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Illinois running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn is moving on from the Illini. The sophomore announced, via Twitter, he will transfer to a new school in 2017.

Vaughn rushed for a team-high 723 yards as a freshman in 2015 with a team-leading six rushing touchdowns. This past season saw Vaughn slip to third in rushing yards with 301 yards and three touchdowns behind Kendrick Foster and Reggie Corbin under new head coach Lovie Smith. Vaughn was slowed by some injury concerns in the 2016 season with a leg injury causing him to be taken out against Minnesota and limiting him to two rushing attempts for three yards in his final two games before not getting a rushing attempt against Iowa and not playing at all against Northwestern in the season finale.

With two years under his belt, Vaughn still has two years of eligibility to play and a redshirt season still available to use to preserve his eligibility. Should he transfer to another FBS program, NCAA transfer rules will prohibit him from playing this fall. He will be eligible to play immediately if he lands at a lower division school.

Pitt and UCF add home-and-home series for 2018 and 2019

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 19:  James Conner #24 of the Pittsburgh Panthers celebrates his third quarter touchdown with teammates against the Duke Blue Devils at Heinz Field on November 19, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. James Conner became the ACC's all-time leader for total touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Pitt Panthers have filled out their non-conference slate for the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the addition of a home-and-home series with UCF.

The scheduling deal, announced Thursday morning, confirm UCF will host Pitt on September 19, 2018. The Knights will make the trip to Pittsburgh the following season on September 21, 2019. The two schools have faced each other just once before, with the Panthers taking a blowout 52-7 victory in Orlando on October 13, 2006.

As a member of the ACC, Pitt is required to play one power conference opponent each season in its non-conference schedule. As much as the American Athletic Conference would like us to all believe the AAC is indeed a power conference, the addition of UCF does not satisfy Pitt’s ACC scheduling requirement. However, Pitt’s ACC scheduling requirement is met in 2018 with a home game against Penn State and a road game at Notre Dame (as part of the ACC’s rotating Notre Dame schedule) and with a road game at Penn State in 2019. The Panthers and Nittany Lions will play each other in 2017 as well in State College.

For UCF, the addition of Pitt to the future schedule continues to tack on power conference opponents in future seasons. UCF will play Georgia Tech and Maryland this coming season and will play at UNC in 2018 in addition to the newly added home game against Pitt. UCF also has Stanford and Texas on future schedules in addition to more games against UNC and Georgia Tech.

Mississippi lawmaker proposes bill to fine NCAA for extended investigation process

FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2013, file photo, Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze leads his team to the field prior to their NCAA college football game against LSU  in Oxford, Miss. Mississippi has aspirations of competing for SEC titles. No. 11 Ole Miss (4-0, 1-0) plays No. 3 Alabama (4-0, 1-0) on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014,  in its biggest home game in more than a decade.  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
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Politicians will always look for ways to play to their constituents, and that sometimes means tugging at the heartstrings of local sports fans. There is no other reason why a lawmaker in Mississippi is proposing a bill that aims to fine the NCAA for taking too long to conduct any investigation of a school within the state of Mississippi.

Representative Trey Lamar is endorsing a bill that provides a one-year limit for NCAA investigations after notifying the school of a pending investigation. A notice of allegations must then be presented within six months from the initial notice of a pending investigation.

It is worth remembering that Ole Miss remains under NCAA investigation for potential violations of NCAA rules. The investigation has been going on since last January and has cast a bit of a cloud of uncertainty over the entire Ole Miss football program. No hearing in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions is currently scheduled for the program, leaving many following the Ole Miss program a tad frustrated.

The problem with NCAA investigations is there is no current structure for forming a definitive timeline of the investigation process, and each investigation is handled on a case-by-case basis with a different outcome and different allegations and charges in each. Because of that, investigations can drag on for extended period of times before the NCAA feels comfortable in its resolution.

How the state can actually fine the NCAA for taking longer than a year to complete an investigation is unknown, and perhaps not likely. But hey, Lamar will get the Ole Miss vote the next time he is on the ballot.

LSU dismisses nose guard Travonte Valentine

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 03: Travonte Valentine #55 of the LSU Tigers awaits the snap against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lambeau Field on September 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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LSU has dismissed nose guard Travonte Valentine. The dismissal for a violation of team rules was announced Thursday night with an emailed release with head coach Ed Orgeron sharing a brief statement.

“At this point in time, Travonte is no longer part of our football program,” Orgeron said. “We wish him the best.”

Valentine played in five games for LSU last season as a sophomore, but he did not play in the final seven games of the season. Valentine faced some academic troubles at LSU last year that put his eligibility in question over the summer, but he worked to meet the academic requirements to play for LSU prior to the start of the 2016 season. Valentine also had to work through NCAA issues regarding academic concerns that prevented him from playing his freshman season.

LSU did not announce or confirm the reason for Valentine’s dismissal from the program other than to say it was for a violation of team rules.