I always get a kick whenever people around the country start making Houston Nutt jokes because they invariably refer to "heppin!" Somehow, apparently "people heppin" became the Nutt-ism most well known by most people.
But that's not true in Arkansas.
I don't know that there's any way to definitively prove it, but far and away the phrase that I continue to hear more than any other to this day is, or some variation of, "I called that play, brotha!"
It makes sense. It's a catchphrase that can apply to so many situations. It works for pretty much any life victory, no matter how major or minor. Hit a good golf shot? "I called that 7-iron, brotha!" When you pick up a round of really good drinks: "I called some good beers today, brotha!" Bret Bielema after 4th-and-25: "That was a called play, and I called it, Chuck!" (he didn't but it would have been really awesome).
I typically tilt my head upward when I do it and use some sort of really bad, high-pitched, caricatured Nutt accent. We all have our own methods.
Relive the madness:
I don't know why the person who put that little clip together spliced in the Howard Dean scream, but it's the only available audio I could find.
Here's the background. Nutt was coming under a lot of heat in 2005. It was his eighth season in Fayetteville, and clearly on his way to his second consecutive losing season. Nutt ran the type of conservative offense many mistakenly associate with Bielema (at least before the Ole Miss game) and adamantly refuted any notion that he should hire an offensive coordinator to bring some life into the offense. Nutt called his own plays, so he didn't believe it was necessary.
By the time Arkansas went to Oxford to play Ole Miss on November 12, 2005, the Razorbacks were 2-6 and 0-5 in the SEC. Fans were fed up and Nutt knew it. So after Arkansas beat Ole Miss that day, Nutt went on his postgame show with Chuck Barrett and made sure he let everyone know when they talked Arkansas' touchdowns, "That was a called play, and I called it, Chuck! I called some good plays today, brother!"
"I called that play, brotha!" was never actually the line, but like any such classic, it evolved over the years. It's basically just a condensed version of the original. And that's fine.
The line is easy to joke about now and has been for years, and we'll continue to do so for years because it's hilarious. But at the time, it angered several people because Nutt was antagonizing anybody, fans or media, who ever questioned his play-calling ability.
The reason why this really did become an important turning point in Razorback history is because one of those listeners was an Arkansas quarterback commit named Mitch Mustain. Mustain called him a "dork" for acting that way after beating a pretty bad Ole Miss team. The comment surfaced nearly a year later, right in the middle of Mustain's freshman season at Arkansas, in Kurt Voigt's book on the 2005 Springdale team,Year of the Dog.
According to Mustain, he met with Nutt privately shortly after learning the comment would be published in the book in an effort "to assuage whatever hard feelings he may have held, and we agreed that it was the past and was no longer an issue."
According to Nutt, "he was alerted of the book a week or two before the trip to South Carolina when he asked Malzahn about Mustain's recent struggles at practice."
Regardless, it seemed Nutt was bothered, as he benched Mustain after throwing an interception on his first pass against South Carolina, and he wouldn't see the field again in the regular season.
While Mustain now acknowledges his relationship with Nutt "was doomed and irreparable from the beginning," he also says the book's release and his reaction to Nutt's comments, "was undoubtedly a catalyst for what would eventually happen in the following weeks and months."
As we all know, in those following weeks and months, Mustain, Malzahn and others left Arkansas after the season. And if you buy into the butterfly effect, that led to Nutt going through was was essentially a dead man walking season in 2007, which led to Bobby Petrino, which led to Bret Bielema and everything we have now.
Maybe they all leave Arkansas even if the book never came out or if Voigt didn't include the comment. Perhaps the relationship between Nutt and Mustain was toxic enough anyway. There's no way to know for sure, but it clearly helped push things along.
So, hey, maybe if Nutt doesn't scream what he screamed in Oxford ten years ago, maybe 4th-and-25 in Oxford last weekend never happens.
This much is for certain: it's still really funny.