Ole Miss Coach Departing as Missouri Set to Enter SEC
OXFORD, MS -- Fans are going to be seeing a few more changes with the Southeastern Conference next year. One day after the announcement that the Missouri Tigers will become the 14th member of the SEC, the University of Mississippi announced that head football coach Houston Nutt will not be back next year.
"Our goal is to compete for championships, and we are not making progress in that regard," said Ole Miss Athletic Director Pete Boone. "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 Nutt's first season at Mississippi, the Rebels handed the 2008 National Champion Florida Gators their only loss of the season. At the time Florida was 3-0 and ranked fourth nationally but the Ole Miss defense blocked Florida's extra point attempt to defeat the Gators 31-30. The Rebels finished 5-3 in the SEC and 9-4 overall, including a 47-34 win in the Cotton Bowl against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
During Nutt's second season as head coach, Ole Miss climbed as high as fourth in the AP Poll but lost their conference opener to South Carolina. The Rebels beat nationally ranked LSU for the second year in a row and finished 4-4 in the SEC. Ole Miss headed back to the Cotton Bowl where they earned another win over a Big 12 opponent, beating Oklahoma State 21-7 to finish 9-4 on the season.
Last year, Coach Nutt and the Rebels the struggled getting their only conference win against Kentucky. They would finish 1-7 in the SEC and 4-4 overall.
So far this year, Ole Miss is 0-5 against SEC teams but still has to play nationally ranked LSU and rival Mississippi State.
With the SEC growing to 14 teams next season, schedules are not set. Since Mizzou will be in the SEC East, and Mississippi the SEC West, it is unclear if the Tigers will play the Rebels next season or not until a later year.
Boone also announced that he would be stepping down from his position within the next year.
"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."