Column: "The Sports Trail": Money talks, Nutt doesn't walk, plus there is no split title

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

by David McNeal

What a sorry low the college coaching profession has sunk to, with the emphasis on the word "professional."

I was all set to enjoy last weeks big Independence Bowl victory over Missouri for a few days, but before the ink was dry on that story, the Houston Nutt saga began and Southern Cal began mouthing about being "National Champions!"

Nuts. Money again.

All the college coaches and schools had agreed to abide by the BCS system ---- that was, until USC found themselves bumped out of the Sugar Bowl Championship game.

Talk about jumping ship. USC head coach Pete Carroll wasted no time in claiming a "national title" when the Trojans beat the daylights out of a good Michigan team in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

HEY! You made a deal, Pete, or at least your school did. The BCS game was the one that counted, and that one went to LSU over Oklahoma, 21-14.

Now, that would be a game. The ferocious Bayou Bengals versus the snotty California Crybabies ---- and more money for the NCAA.

Okay, okay. Truth is, if I was in Pete Carroll's shoes, I would be doing just what he is ---- claiming a national title. Former Razorback coach Frank Broyles did it at Arkansas in 1965 when the Hogs beat Nebraska and there was a split title claimed.

Speaking of Coach Broyles, he could make a car wreck look like a donation to the Boys and Girls Club.

When Nebraska first started to romance Nutt about taking over their program, Broyles was quoted by more than one source as saying it was 90 percent certain Nutt was going.

Now, he may have just looked in the checkbook (read that as the Razorback Foundation) and noticed that there was not enough cash to match Nebraska's offer ---- but he sure wasn't trying hard to find other funding.

Then during negotiations, it was reported he stormed out of the Broyles Complex. Next thing we mortals knew, former Razorback, Hog supporter, and Board of Trustees member Jim Lindsey was wooing Nutt, not Broyles.

The money to keep Nutt was promised, and he agreed to stay, with all concerned appearing chummy at the big news conference. Please.

The worst part of all this is the outrageous sums being paid to coaches at the college level. Nutt said it wasn't about the money, but his salary got bumped from a reported $800,000 to about $1.5 million a year.

Then they gave him another $1 million annuity to go with his other $2 million annuity, and gave him "better security," guaranteeing more of his earnings.

Incredible! Can you imagine? Just try and make me an offer like that.

Please!

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