Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt isn’t a fan of rules.
He doesn’t like oversigning rules, GPA rules, or rules against “laundry checks”.
Nutt, contrary to his Christian-based, conservative nickname, is a college football free spirit whose beliefs would be found in San Fransisco or Austin, Texas, before ever coming within a cry of Oxford, Mississippi.
And as one of the final speakers for SEC Media Days, Nutt, as per usual, let his spirit free.
“There are more and more rules,” Nutt said. “When I was in college back in the 1970’s, I didn’t have anybody to monitor me and yet I still walked out with a degree.”
Chances are, there was little monitoring of any kind going on in the ’70’s. I wasn’t alive during that time, but I hear stories.
The college game has changed since then, though. The NCAA rulebook is thicker, media coverage is different and more money is being poured into sport than ever before.
Of course there are rules.
But the new rules that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive proposed on Wednesday have, by and large, been met with at least some resistance among many of the conference’s own coaches, including Nutt.
“I know I’ve been labeled or connected as the guy who oversigns… But people forget that it was really just that one year (referencing 2009 when Nutt signed 37 players) and I knew what I was doing with all of them.
“I really liked the 28-player rule that we had and then we changed it,” Nutt added. “It’s really hard to determine who’s going to sign with you.
“But, the rule is the rule and we’ll follow it.”
On academic requirements:
“We’ve come such a long way… we need to remember that for some of these kids, they’re the first ones in their family to go to college and they need some time to get adjusted. Some tutoring, maybe even some help taking notes because they’ve never had to do that before… it takes a semester to get adjusted.”
On covering the full cost of attendance:
“I like my plan better than coach Steve Spurrier (who previously suggested paying players) which is to give the kids some spending money — $90, $100 a month. And times have changed, so some of these kids, not only are they buying gas but they have families. They need to be able to find a daycare for their kid.”
Agree with it or not, Nutt brings up an interesting point about helping players who have kids for whom they need to provide. You could argue that the athlete with a family made the choice to get into that situation, but it’s still an intriguing argument that I haven’t heard made before.
But for being so blatantly against certain rules, Nutt goes out on a limb to suggest a rule that gives players 25 days off a year.
“It’s become such a year around thing,” Nutt said. “Incoming freshman have to be on campus on May 27th if they’re going to take summer classes. And I’ve had players that it’s worked out in their favor and they graduated early and were able to earn their Master’s, but not every kid is going to be a doctor or a lawyer.”
Only a unique offer could come from such a free spirit.