Ex-Boise State coach Houston Nutt demands apology from Ole Miss for ‘smear campaign’

Mississippi coach Houston Nutt reacts in the second half of a 41-23 loss to Auburn in 2011.
Mississippi coach Houston Nutt reacts in the second half of a 41-23 loss to Auburn in 2011. AP

Former Boise State football coach Houston Nutt and his attorney have gone public with a demand that Ole Miss apologize to Nutt for a “smear campaign” that Yahoo Sports reports might have been used to deflect attention from the current football staff’s NCAA violations.

Ole Miss faces 21 charges of NCAA violations within its football program. Four are tied to Nutt’s staff.

From Yahoo: “Former assistants David Saunders and Chris Vaughn allegedly perpetrated academic fraud pertaining to ACT scores in 2010; allegedly arranged for impermissible housing, meals and transportation in the same year; and subsequently lied to NCAA investigators after being fired by the school. So it’s not like Nutt’s tenure comes out with a pristine shine. There were major alleged violations on his watch, and the school is not disputing those allegations.”

However, when the violations were first reported Jan. 29, 2016, a series of stories attributed to anonymous sources indicated that much of the NCAA trouble stemmed from Nutt’s staff.

“This was a smear campaign,” attorney Thomas Mars told Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde. “If it weren’t so deceitful and morally wrong, it would probably go down in college football history as one of the best trick plays ever. ... I’m 100 percent certain the information was leaked by the university. And I’m absolutely certain I could prove that in court.”

Part of Nutt’s frustration is that he would like to coach again. He was 5-6 in his one year at Boise State, in 1997. He also has been a head coach at Murray State (31-16, 1993-96), Arkansas (75-48, 1998-2007) and Ole Miss (24-26, 2008-11).

“I’m 59 years old,” Nutt told Forde. “It’s not like I’m going to get the next big job. But you miss ball so much. … It’s just bad when you get hit from all sides and blindsided by it.”