Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt was in town today for a golf and social event with the Lee County Ole Miss club. I caught up with him for a few minutes between the 18th hole and dinner. Here’s the interview.
PA: How have you been received in your alumni travels?
HN: This is my seventh alumni club. I’ve been as far as Atlanta, Pascagoula, Jackson, Memphis and now Tupelo. Everywhere I’ve been there’s been a real hunger, kind of like the press conference on the first day. There’s a real starving for success. There’s a real energy there of, “Hey, we’re ready to win.” That’s what I feed off of.
I’ll probably do more of this now since there’s not spring recruiting for me, and I’m not on the road. What I’ll do is really try to cater to our fans a little bit, let them know about our program and tell them what’s going on.
PA: What is your message at these gatherings?
HN: First of all, the program is taking baby steps, because they haven’t had much success. They’re as hungry as you are as far as wanting to win. Make no mistake about that.
There are some things we have to correct. It’s about finishing. It’s about doing everything the right way, from going to school, study hall … We had right around 12 guys that were really behind the 8-ball academically when we first got here. Now we’re back to that theme song … finish. Are you going to finish, or are you going to let go of the rope. I hit those themes, then talk about our players, how things have been very positive, how they’ve helped themselves body-wise and weight-wise. They’ve bought in.
It’s just a cautious optimism, because we’re in the toughest league, and you didn’t win a game last year. We have to change that.
PA: What were the most important things you learned about this team in spring drills?
HN: The biggest thing I liked was their acceptance of change, how they accepted us as coaches. The transition was very very smooth. They never questioned (us).
The thing I didn’t like was when things went bad or you had a bad series after we put pads on there was a little bit of, “Hey, I confess, it’s your fault.” We have to get over that. That’s just a loser’s limp way of saying, “Hey, not me.” Look, it’s about the next play. You have to have a short memory when something goes bad.
PA: What is your greatest challenge in August?
PA: What can you say about Jerrell Powe’s academic progress?
HN: He is doing very well, knock on wood. We’ve got to get through finals, but as we turn the corner and head to finals I’ve been very proud of him. Everything is above a C, and he’s doing well.
PA: Do you believe this is the final hurdle for Powe?
HN: From what I’ve been told, I think this is the final hurdle. I hope so. He deserves it. It would be one thing if he didn’t do the things that have been asked of him by the NCAA and the SEC, but he’s done everything.