In retrospect, maybe Houston Nutt won too much too early at Ole Miss.
The Rebels won nine games in each of his first two seasons, including Cotton Bowl victories, but it was all downhill from there. Back-to-back losing seasons followed, including the current one, and now Nutt is out of a job.
"If you would have reversed it and had the two bad seasons first and then end up with two Cotton Bowls, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation," said Nutt, who will receive a $6 million buyout as part of his termination.
In winning nine games in both 2008 and 2009, Nutt became the first coach at Ole Miss to win at least nine games in back-to-back seasons since the legendary John Vaught in 1961 and 1962. But then to turn around and lose 12 in a row in the SEC over his third and fourth seasons was too much for Nutt to overcome.
What happened these last two seasons to send the program spiraling downward?
Some costly injuries played a role, not to mention some misses by Nutt on the recruiting trail. But this also wasn't a very strong senior class.
"So when it happens that quick, and you have a guy like D.T. Shackelford that you lose for the season, a Wayne Dorsey, a Marcus Temple. Without making excuses, we’re not the type of program right now that can say, ‘Next’ and replace the same kind of character and speed and athleticism," Nutt said. "The thing that (predecessor) Ed Orgeron did was that he left me two very good classes that did win and some very, very good athletes and then some classes that weren’t so good, and then my first year [of recruiting] wasn’t as good as we would like coming in a little bit late. But I thought the last two recruiting classes were just outstanding.
"That’s what you feel good about. You’ve got some quality guys playing right now in the SEC that are going to be very, very good."