Houston Nutt eyeing a coaching return… at UConn?

3 Comments

The Southern drawl and folksy, homespun caricature that is Houston Nutt coaching an FBS football program in the Northeast?  Yes please, sign me up.  Now.

A prominent — but unidentified — Connecticut high school football coach told the Connecticut News-Times that, out of the blue recently, Nutt called him recently to get a feel for the players at that level of football in the state.  With the UConn job opening up earlier this season — Paul Pasqualoni was fired after two-plus seasons on the job — the fact that Nutt is feeling out to coaches in the state is a rather significant data point amidst rumors and speculation that he’s in line for the job.

“Houston wanted to know about the landscape of football in Connecticut and what kind of players we had, the skill-level, and the hot-beds for talent,” the anonymous coach told the News-Times. “I guess he’s doing his research. I was taken by surprise a little bit. I’m not sure how he got my cell number*.”

(*He’s Houston Nutt; he has his ways)

Houston Nutt, UConn Huskies head coach: that has a helluva ring to it and would open up a whole new world in which to define “culture clashes.”

The Arkansas native has spent the vast majority of his playing and coaching career in and around the South.  After playing quarterback at both Oklahoma State and Arkansas, Nutt has held coaching jobs at those two schools as well as Murray State (Kentucky) and Ole Miss.  He also spent one (glorious) season as the head coach at Boise State in the late nineties.

Three days after Arkansas beat eventual BCS champion LSU in 2007, Nutt stepped down as the Razorbacks’ head coach after 10 seasons.  Literally a few hours after his resignation, he had reached an agreement and signed a contract to become the head coach at Ole Miss.

Toward the end of his fourth season with the Rebels, Nutt was fired in November of 2011; he’s been out of coaching since, spending his football seasons now as a CBS Sports television analyst.

Since then, Nutt’s tracked well beneath the coaching radar.  In December of 2012, there were reports that Nutt interviewed for the USF vacancy.  A month or so later, it was reported that he had met with the Dallas Cowboys about a potential on that staff.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Jackson Clarion-Ledger)

SEC leads NFL Draft for 11th straight year as Alabama and Michigan set school records

Brandon Wade/AP Images for NFLPA
Leave a comment

The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone, and once again it is the SEC claiming another NFL Draft national championship. A grand total of 53 players from the SEC were drafted by NFL teams. It is the 11th straight year the SEC has had the most players drafted by NFL teams.

The ACC ended the draft with 42 players drafted, followed by the Pac-12 (36) and Big Ten (35). The Big 12 ended the draft with just 14 players drafted.

Helping to contribute to the SEC’s NFL Draft total was Alabama setting a school record with 10 players drafted.

Alabama’s nine players drafted in the first 80 picks was also a new Alabama record.

Michigan ended up having more players drafted than any other Big Ten team, slipping past Ohio State by the time the draft closed up shop this year. For the Wolverines, 11 players ended up being drafted. The previous school record for draft picks was 10, set in 1972 and tied in 1974. Head coach Jim Harbaugh will get plenty of the praise for developing that many players getting a chance to be drafted, but Brady Hoke should be recognized for recruiting those players as well (and blamed for not developing the talent he brought in).

 

Air Force changes rules for football players with NFL aspirations

AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo
1 Comment

One of the top players from Air Force was ineligible to be drafted by the NFL this weekend, and it had nothing to do with NFL rules. It also had nothing to do with NFL teams backing away from a particular player due to off-field concerns. Instead, a policy at Air Force is what is to blame for wide receiver Jalen Robinette not moving on to the NFL at this time.

The U.S. Air Force will not approve requests from academy graduates to defer their two years of active duty in order to be allowed to play professional football. Just a year ago, the Department of Defense changed the policy to allow for the possibility, which made it possible for Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds to be allowed to play. Reynolds later joined the Baltimore Ravens. Reynolds had received a recommendation to be allowed to play by the U.S. Naval Academy.

“The Air Force notified academy leaders [Thursday] that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military commitments for cadet athletes,” a statement from Air Force read. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve, which would allow their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Because of the policy change and confirmation, Robinette was not able to be drafted. He may still have been a long shot to be drafted by an NFL Team, but the policy also means he is unable to be signed as an undrafted free agent as well.

Rawleigh Williams carted off at Arkansas scrimmage

AP Photo/Chris Brashers
Leave a comment

Any time a player that has previously undergone neck surgery goes down on the field and needs to be carted off is quite the scary moment. On Saturday, the Arkansas football program had that exact scare when Rawleigh Williams went down on the field in pain and ended up having to be carted off the practice field during the Arkansas scrimmage.

Williams was placed on a stretcher and taken out of the facility on a cart to receive medical attention. His legs and arms were moving on the ground, a slight sigh of relief given the hit and his injury history. In 2015, Williams was carted off and had to undergo surgery on his neck. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said the injury concern on Saturday was apparently not related to the previous neck injury, which was expected to have a full recovery.

It is an unfortunate ending to the spring for Williams, because all indications seemed to be he was certainly improving running the football. Bielema said earlier in the week Williams was running with more patience, which is always a key for a running back.

Arkansas moved its final scrimmage of the spring indoors due to bad weather rolling through the area.

Justin Herbert shines in first Oregon spring game under Willie Taggart

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A glimpse of a brand new era of Oregon football took center stage in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday as the spring football season drew to a close. Willie Taggart showed fans a little bit of what to expect from Oregon in the fall as the program looks to bounce back from a down season under the coach who has shown a knack for improving programs. As is usually the case in a spring game, Oregon’s quarterback situation was under a microscope, and sophomore Justin Herbert took advantage of the opportunity.

Herbert completed 16 of 26 passes for 327 yards and established a connection with wide receiver Darren Carrington. The two connected for three touchdowns in the game. Sophomore Travis Jonson and early enrollee Braxton Burmeister also saw playing time in the game, but Carrington was confident in saying this is Herbert’s job to lose.

”Our chemistry has definitely improved this spring, and it’ll improve more by the time fall comes, but Herbert, I mean, that’s the guy right now to beat,” Carrington said after the spring game.

As for the team as a whole, Taggert knows there is much still to address as a new system and style are implemented and the roster adjusts physically to the demands of the new coach.

‘We’re still building. We’re nowhere where we need to be as a football team yet. We have some good players. We don’t have a lot of depth that we need to have, that’s going to be a work in progress,” Taggart said. ”The thing for us as coaches is just to make our guys better than they were before. If I guy wasn’t good enough we want to make him look better than he was before. If I guy was good we want to make him great.”

Og course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon spring game without having that typical Oregon uniform flair. Even with a new head coach and with the talk suggesting the Ducks will go for a more traditional approach to uniforms in the fall, the spring game was used for some sizzle on the unis.

Oregon’s spring game crowd of 36,821 assured the Ducks of having the highest spring game attendance among Pac-12 school for a third consecutive year.