FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Following 10 seasons, 75 victories and seven bowl games with an eighth bid coming later this week, Houston Nutt has stepped down as head football coach at the University of Arkansas, he announced at a press conference on Monday.
“After serious consideration, I have decided to resign as coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks football team,” Nutt said. “Although this is a difficult decision because of my commitment to the young men in our football program and to the University of Arkansas, I know I am making the right decision at the right time for my family and for the Razorback program. I believe that it is in the best interest of my family to move forward. It is also my sincere hope that all fans from all corners of the state of Arkansas will come together and continue their passionate and strong support of the Razorback program.”
Nutt, coming off a 50-48 triple-overtime victory at LSU on Friday to finish the regular season 8-4, ends his Arkansas tenure with a 75-48 (.634) record. Overall in 15 years, he is 111-70 (.613).
“Houston’s decision to resign was neither forced nor encouraged,” UA Chancellor Dr. John White said. “I made it very clear to him that I wanted him to remain as our football coach. It has been a difficult year for Houston and his family. Despite the criticism and complaints he has received, Houston has remained strong – committed to his team and to the entire Razorback family. He has said repeatedly, even as recently as (Sunday), this is a dream job for him. Because of his love for Arkansas, for the University of Arkansas, and for the Razorback family, Houston has made a decision that he believes, in the long run, will be best for Arkansas, for the university and for the Razorbacks. He believes his resignation provides the best hope for the Razorback family to reunite, for the fan base to unify. (Monday), Houston informed me that he had wrestled with this issue and had concluded that it was time for him to close this chapter in his life. Houston Nutt leaves the Razorback football program much, much stronger than it was when he arrived in 1997.”
His teams won or shared three Southeastern Conference Western Division titles, made two appearances in the SEC Championship game, and played in the 1999 Citrus Bowl, 2000 Cotton Bowl, 2000 Las Vegas Bowl, 2002 Cotton Bowl, 2002 Music City Bowl, 2003 Independence Bowl and 2007 Capital One Bowl.
His teams went 9-3 with a No. 16 final ranking in 1998, 8-4 with a No. 17 ranking in 1999, 6-6 in 2000, 7-5 in 2001, 9-5 in 2002, 9-4 in 2003, 5-6 in 2004, 4-7 in 2005, 10-4 with a No. 15 final ranking in 2006 and 8-4 with a current No. 25 ranking this season.
“I am grateful for the 10 years I have been able to serve as coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks and to work for the University of Arkansas,” Nutt said. “As I leave, I have so many people I want to thank for the opportunity I had to serve as the coach. I want to thank Chancellor White, Coach (Frank) Broyles and all of those individuals who were involved in the hiring process that brought me to the University of Arkansas. I also want to publicly thank all of our current and former assistant coaches with whom I’ve had the privilege of working and coaching with over many years.
“I want to thank the faculty, students and staff for their support for the Razorback program over these many years. I also want to thank the fans for their support and passion for the Razorback football program. Most importantly, I want to thank all of the players who have believed in the Razorback football program and who have competed for the University of Arkansas.
“The greatest joy in coaching for me has been the opportunity to build lasting relationships with young men and to coach them. I hope each of you know how much you mean to me.
“I am proud of the many successes we have achieved together as a team over the time I have been here. I can’t think of a more fitting conclusion to my 10-year tenure as head coach than the events of last Friday. Against all the odds, this Razorback team believed and was committed to doing whatever it took to beat the No. 1 team in the nation on their home field. We have come so far in the past 10 years and I know this program will continue to thrive in the years to come.
“As I look forward to new challenges and opportunities in my life and the lives of my family, I wish the Razorback football program and Razorback fans continued success in the future.”
The 1998 Football News Division I-A national coach of the year, and the 2001 and 2006 SEC coach of the year, Nutt became Arkansas’ 29th head coach on Dec. 10, 1997. He played quarterback at Arkansas in 1976 and ’77 before transferring to Oklahoma State. In 1983, he was a graduate assistant coach at Arkansas under Lou Holtz. Following six seasons as an assistant at OSU, he returned to Fayetteville as receivers coach in 1990. He was the head coach at Murray State from 1993-96, going 31-16 in four years, and at Boise State in 1997 (5-6) before taking over the Razorback program.
“As Houston exits, we begin to prepare for his successor,” White said. “I have asked (incoming AD) Jeff Long to handle the search for a new football coach. Given the high profile position, I have asked Jeff to handle it in much the same way I handled the search that brought him to the University of Arkansas. To the extent Coach Broyles or I can be of assistance to him, all he has to do is ask.
“To ensure continuity of leadership as we prepare for a bowl game, we have asked Reggie Herring to serve as interim head coach. Coach Broyles, Jeff Long and I are very grateful to Reggie for agreeing to do so. We are confident he will ensure that the team is prepared for the bowl game. We look forward to the coaching staff remaining intact until a new head coach is named.”