Although Houston Nutt continues to show up at the office and collect a nice paycheck for coaching the Hogs, that hasn't stopped rumors from swirling about his fate after the season. Certainly, the lackluster effort against Tennessee upped the volume of the chatter that had grown quieter after a string of wins.
The Slophouse blog reports today that the Butch Davis-to-Arkansas rumors are still floating around in North Carolina, at least to the point where he's still being asked to comment about them. With his string of winning seasons at Miami (and, to be fair, notably less successful tenure with the Cleveland Browns), Davis is definitely a 'big name'. However, a highly unscientific study of comments in the Razorback blogosphere indicates that the dream candidate for many Hog fans is another ex-Miami coach with Arkansas ties (and a significantly better NFL record): Jimmy Johnson.
To be honest, it's not that clear why Johnson would want to return to coaching period, much less at Arkansas. Every article I've read about him in the last several years always makes a point of mentioning how content he is spending time on his boat in South Florida, etc. And it's been an open secret that he's had a major grudge against his alma mater after supposedly being snubbed by Frank Broyles during the coaching search that eventually produced Ken Hatfield.
Now that Broyles isn't calling the shots, maybe that factor is less of a big deal, but I'm still skeptical that Johnson would want to give up the cushy retirement lifestyle. I mean, maybe he would enjoy fishing and boating on many of the fine lakes in Northwest Arkansas, but that's still not quite the Caribbean. And even if he could be lured back with an enormous armored truck full of money, would he have the same fire that made him a success earlier in his career?
Having said all that, it's still fun to speculate about Johnson (and does it ever seem that for such a small state, Arkansas produces more than its share of big-time football coaches?). In the end, though, if Nutt does move on I think Hog fans should set their expectations on getting a young up-and-comer...to put it in familiar terms, a John Pelphrey rather than a Billy Gillespie. In the end, though, it's very possible that the always-tenacious Houston Dale Nutt might have a few tricks still left up his sleeve. The next couple of months should be interesting, to say the least.