Houston Nutt is threatening a lawsuit over being blamed for too much of Ole Miss’s NCAA wrongdoings. Now, first off, Houston Nutt being back in the headlines is just the kind of thing that can take a sub-par week and turn it into a great one. Nutt is a living embodiment of his own name, and whenever he’s involved in something, it’s normally worth both a look and a laugh.
Today’s news involves Ole Miss and the ramifications of their NCAA investigation, which has been ongoing since last year. Nutt hasn’t coached there since the 2011 season, but he feels as though he’s being scapegoated for more than his share of Ole Miss’s problems, and he wants an apology. And he’s willing to go to court to get it.
That’s according to Yahoo’s Pat Forde:
“It hurts you,” Nutt said to Yahoo Sports this week. “It devastates you.”
This was the residual effect of an Ole Miss damage-control strategy in the wake of revelations about NCAA violations – a strategy that seemed like an attempt to divert scrutiny from current coach Hugh Freeze and staff to Nutt, who was the Rebels’ head coach from 2008-11. That has left Nutt feeling wronged and seeking recourse – a public apology from the university, and an acknowledgement that Mississippi tried to portray him as a bigger part of its problem than he actually was.
Thus far there has been little in the way of meaningful response from the school. If an acknowledgement and apology isn’t forthcoming, the possibility of a defamation suit against Ole Miss remains in play according to Nutt’s very persistent attorney, Thomas Mars.
You might remember the Laremy Tunsil draft night saga, where texts were published by a hacker purporting to show an exchange where Tunsil asked for and received help paying bills for his family.
But the investigation has gone much further, and included other sports, which Ole Miss was quick to point out in the immediate aftermath, an apparent strategy of dilution to take some of the pressure off current coach Hugh Freeze. Some of that dilution included noting that the NCAA was focused on violations that occurred when Houston Nutt was in charge of the program.
Nutt feels that’s unfair, and that he’s being vilified for more than his share of wrongdoing. So, who’s right and who’s wrong? Well, it turns out, a little from column A, a little from column B:
When the school finally released the Notice of Allegations in May 2016, 13 of the 28 alleged violations were tied to football, and nine of those occurred during Freeze’s time as head coach. Four of the football violations are tied to Nutt’s staff…
So it’s not like Nutt’s tenure comes out with a pristine shine. There were major alleged violations on his watch, and the school is not disputing those allegations. But clearly, the actual NCAA violation numbers didn’t match up with most of the stories that came out in late January 2016.
Nutt’s essentially claiming defamatory damages, and saying that those Ole Miss leaks have hindered his ability to get another coaching job. As though that’s the main reason he’s struggling, and not the NCAA violations that did occur during his tenure. (Nor the fact that he went 24-26 at Ole Miss.)
Never change, Houston Nutt.