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Sources: Nutt not expected to return to Arkansas as coach

Houston Nutt is not expected to return next season as Arkansas football coach, multiple sources told ESPN.com Friday night.

Nutt is the second longest tenured coach in the Southeastern Conference behind Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer. He's taken the Razorbacks to two SEC championship games, including last season when the Hogs were defeated by eventual national champion Florida.

An Arkansas spokesman wouldn't confirm to ESPN.com Friday night that Nutt was out as coach and said no decision has been made about Nutt's future at the school.

"Coach Nutt hasn't resigned and he hasn't been fired," Arkansas sports information director Kevin Trainor said. "The chancellor and athletics director haven't made a decision yet."

Nutt scolded the media Saturday about reports indicating this will be his last year with the Razorbacks.

"It wasn't true yesterday and it's not true today," Nutt said
after Arkansas beat Mississippi State 45-31. "And it's not right
to do that -- to make statements like that to your team -- unless you
have a real source from either that athletic director of that
school or me. And you don't, so you make up things."

Various reports have surfaced saying Nutt won't be back next
year, although they did not give a clear indication of whether Nutt
would be dismissed or leave on his own.

"I haven't talked to one athletic director except for
[Arkansas' Frank] Broyles and [Arkansas] Chancellor [John] White,
and so to make statements like that and try to disrupt your team
and create all these stories, it's kind of foolish," Nutt said.
"I felt sorry for our team because everybody's asking them what's
going on, 'Is it true?' It's just a bad deal."

A Fort Smith, Ark., TV station also reported Friday night that Nutt wouldn't return to coach the Razorbacks next season. KHBS-TV reported on its Web site that multiple sources confirmed Nutt will be "leaving at the end of the season. Sources could not confirm whether Nutt would offer his resignation, be fired or possibly accept another position."

Earlier this week, multiple sources told ESPN.com that new Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long, who officially takes over when long-time Razorbacks AD Broyles retires Dec. 31, was leaning toward replacing Nutt as the school's football coach.

Long was at Saturday's game but would not comment to The Associated Press on Nutt's
situation.

The sources told ESPN.com that a decision wouldn't be announced until after the Razorbacks finish the regular season. Arkansas plays its final regular-season game at No. 1 LSU on Nov. 23.

The Hogs are laboring through a disappointing season with a 7-4 record, 3-4 in the SEC West. Nutt has a 74-48 record in his 10th season at Arkansas and has led the Hogs to seven bowl games.

Nutt praised his players for playing through the distractions Saturday.

"I was just really pleased and proud of how they performed with everything going on," he said.

Star tailback Darren McFadden said it wasn't too hard to focus.

"We've seen and heard about everything," McFadden said. "It's
just something we have to overlook. ... It is something coach Nutt
told us was going on. I don't think there was any truth to the
rumors that were going around."

Sources told ESPN.com that Arkansas could owe Nutt as much as $5 million, including deferred money, to buy out the remaining five years of his contract. Nutt received a one-year extension last season following the Hogs' SEC championship game appearance. He earns about $1.05 million per year, not including more than $400,000 in annual deferred annuities he would be owed by the school.

Nutt has been under intense scrutiny since the Razorbacks lost their last three games to finish 10-4 last season. Arkansas won the SEC Western Division, but lost to Florida 38-28 in the SEC Championship Game. The Hogs
then lost to Wisconsin 17-14 in the Capital One Bowl.

Nutt was not about to make any predictions about his future on Saturday.

"I go one day at a time. All I want to do is coach this season,
and then we have an evaluation time after the end of each year with
the athletic director -- this time, probably with Jeff Long," Nutt
said. "Stop predicting and stop making up rumors. I would wait
until after the meeting with the athletic director -- the new
athletic director, Jeff Long -- and then make comments to get some
facts."

After the 2006 season, highly regarded quarterback Mitch Mustain and receiver Damian Williams transferred to Southern California. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who coached Mustain, Williams and two other Arkansas players at Springdale (Ark.) High School, left for the same position at Tulsa.

The defections were only the beginning of Nutt's problems last summer. Fans filed open records requests for Nutt's cell phone records, and the coach was subpoenaed as part of a lawsuit over an e-mail one of Nutt's family friends sent Mustain.

Chris Low is a college football writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Chris at espnclow@aol.com. Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.