LSU Talks To Nutt

LSU Talks To Nutt

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt told LSU athletic director Skip Bertman on Tuesday he would not be involved in an interview process for the LSU vacancy for a head football coach, but remains open to discussing the possibility.

Nutt told The Morning News late Tuesday night he had not been offered the job, but he will not entirely rule out discussions about it.

A decision on the Nutt-LSU scenario should be reached today, Nutt told The Morning News on Tuesday night.

The seventh-year coach said he spoke with Bertman on Tuesday afternoon while attending his daughter's high school basketball tournament in Duncanville, Texas. Bertman asked for and received permission from Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles to speak with Nutt about the opening earlier in the day.

Nutt said he wouldn't be one of a handful of candidates interviewing for the LSU opening, largely because of last winter's highly-publicized flirtation from Nebraska. Nutt contemplated an offer to replace the fired Frank Solich before deciding to remain at Arkansas, earning a pay raise to approximately $1.2 million annually.

"I told (Bertman) I just can't (interview)," Nutt said.

The LSU job opened Saturday when coach Nick Saban, who guided the Tigers to a share of the national championship last season, announced his decision to take over as head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

LSU already had contacted Louisville coach Bobby Petrino and Oklahoma State coach Les Miles about the opening, which is regarded as a top-notch job after Saban guided the Tigers to a 48-15 record in his tenure. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Petrino had a preliminary meeting with LSU on Sunday. But Petrino said he has not been offered the job and refused to say if he expected further meetings.

Broyles is vacationing in Augusta, Ga., and did not return messages from The Morning News on Tuesday. Arkansas sports information director Kevin Trainor confirmed Broyles had been contacted by LSU and granted Bertman permission to talk with Nutt.

"I don't know what to think about it right now ... I really don't," Nutt said earlier Tuesday.

The New Orleans Time-Picayune first mentioned Nutt as a potential candidate - in a mild reference -Sunday and the seventh-year coach, who is 53-33 at Arkansas, said it was just "talk" and "rumors" when contacted by The Morning News. LSU hired a search firm immediately after Saban's departure to contact some of the large number of coaches who reportedly had interest in the opening.

Saban and Nutt are represented by the same agent, Jimmy Sexton, who didn't return calls from The Morning News on Tuesday.

Nutt said Tuesday night he has been speaking with Sexton, but declined to specify the conversations.

LSU is considering Nutt even though the Razorbacks finished 5-6 last season and missed out on postseason play for the first time in his tenure. Nutt is 3-4 against LSU and reporters in Louisiana said Tigers officials have been impressed with what Nutt has accomplished at Arkansas with a much smaller recruiting base.

Arkansas players contacted Tuesday by The Morning News were surprised Nutt-LSU talks are under way.

"I really do wish he would stay, but it is a business," said sophomore defensive end Jamaal Anderson. "We don't really know what's going to happen, so we can't jump to any conclusions.

"But I would be surprised if he left. His love for us and his love for the program, I just don't see him going anywhere, but you never know."

Sophomore receiver Marcus Monk said LSU's interest only confirms what he already knew about Nutt.

"It just shows what kind of coach he is and what kind of person he is," Monk said. "That's the reason I came here and that's the reason most recruits come here, because they really love Coach.

"Because it's a business, I wouldn't be that hurt about it (Nutt taking the LSU job) because he has to do what is best for him and his family. If he feels like it's time to move on, then maybe it is.

"I think he'll end up staying, just because of what we've got coming in and coming back and what he has built here.

"The chemistry that the team has, that's because of him and for some reason, I don't think he'll go.

"But there's no telling what will happen."

Razorbacks bureau chief Dana Caldwell and staff writer Robbie Neiswanger contributed to this report.

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