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Leaving One SEC Job For Another
The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Jul 26, 2008
HOOVER, Ala. — If Houston Nutt needs any tips on where to eat in Oxford, Miss., he could always ask Tommy Tuberville.
At the same time,
must have plenty of Florida visors he no longer wears. And Nick Saban could donate his LSU T-shirts to the Salvation Army since purple and yellow are no longer his colors.
In a sense, the Southeastern Conference has turned into a game of musical chairs over the past few years. Four coaches have left one SEC school, only to reappear a short time later at another one.
Nutt went from Arkansas to Ole Miss. Tuberville went from Ole Miss to Auburn. Spurrier is now at South Carolina after winning both a Heisman Trophy and a national championship at Florida. And don’t bother mentioning Saban’s name around LSU.
What makes the changes even more intriguing is that each of the four coaches must face his former school every season, giving fans and the media at least one week every year to bring up the past.
“It’s always different and it always brings back a lot of memories,” said Tuberville, who posted a 25-20 record in four seasons at Ole Miss from 1995-98. “You can’t let all that stuff get in the way of what your business is.”
Not surprisingly, the topic of coaches changing jobs within the conference was brought up at last week’s SEC Media Days. Nutt arrived at the Wynfrey Hotel as Ole Miss’ coach a year after he came to speak about Arkansas.
But as much as Nutt tried to avoid talking about his former school, he admitted it will be awkward when he brings his new Ole Miss team into Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Oct. 25.
The week leading up to the game will no doubt be filled with more questions about Nutt’s tumultuous 10-year tenure at Arkansas and the factors that led him to leave for Ole Miss. Two days after he resigned as Arkansas’ coach, he was introduced at Ole Miss.
“You can’t help but think about it. You grew up in Arkansas. You thought at one time you’d be there for life,” said Nutt, who went 75-48 with the Razorbacks. “You can’t help but think (about) what it’s gonna be like coming in from the visitor side. But quickly my mind goes back to (the season opener against) Memphis.”
Spurrier knows exactly what it’s like to walk into a stadium he once called home and face a team he once coached. He admitted that his decision to go to South Carolina added a bit of intrigue to the Gamecock’s series with Florida.
Spurrier won the 1966 Heisman Trophy as Florida’s quarterback, and he led the Gators to the 1996 national championship as a coach. But when his two-year stint as an NFL coach didn’t pan out, he decided to return to the SEC.
But he chose to go to South Carolina, not Florida.
“Houston said he hadn’t thought about (facing Arkansas) that much. To tell you the truth, I didn’t think about it that much when I was coaching the first year against Florida,” Spurrier said. “You’re just trying to coach your team against that team.”
Aside from Nutt, the three other SEC coaches who have changed jobs within the league have had varying success against their former schools.
Tuberville is 7-2 against Ole Miss, though he lost the first meeting 24-17 in overtime in 1999. Spurrier won his first game against Florida in 2005, but he has lost the past two. And Saban suffered a 41-34 defeat to LSU on Nov. 3 in Tuscaloosa.
Not surprisingly, those rivalries have only heated up over the past few years.
LSU fans still hold a grudge against Saban for leaving for the NFL and then heading to Alabama when things didn’t go well with the Miami Dolphins. And Nutt’s decision to take the Ole Miss job has only intensified the dislike that many Arkansas fans feel for him.
“Things happen. This is a business for us,” Tuberville said. “There will be a lot of talk going on that week (before you face your old school). I’ve been through it several times. You just take it and understand that that’s the way it is and you work through it.”
Different Area Codes
Coach New School Old School When They Meet In ’08
Houston Nutt Ole Miss Arkansas Oct. 25
Nick Saban Alabama LSU Nov. 8
Steve Spurrier South Carolina Florida Nov. 15
Tommy Tuberville Auburn Ole Miss Nov. 1
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