Saturday, November 2, 2013

Speculation on Houston Nutt Coaching at UConn

According to College Football Talk, UConn is interested in Houston Nutt as the new head football coach. So given there has been some interest among readers of this blog about the head coaching situation at UConn, I thought that I would at a look at the Mississippi (or Ole Miss) Rebels while Houston Nutt was the head coach.  Unfortunately the data that I use only goes back to the 2008 season, so this is the exact time that coach Nutt was with the Mississippi Rebels, but does not cover his entire coaching career.  Thus with that caveat on the table, here is the last four seasons of Houston Nutt's coaching career in reverse chronological order using the Complex Invasion College Football Production Model.

In Houston Nutt's last season as head football coach with the Rebels, Ole Miss finished 2-10.  Mississippi was the #115 (out of 120) ranked NCAA FBS team in overall production, with the #117 ranked offense and the #107 ranked defense.  Mississippi's best victory was a 38-28 victory over #92 ranked Fresno State University and the Rebel's worst performance was a 13-30 loss to #102 ranked Kentucky Wildcats.  The Rebels played against a "tougher" strength of schedule (SOS) of 49.33 given the Rebels schedule was between one and two standard deviations below the "league" SOS of 63.24.

The Rebels finished the regular season at 4-8.  Mississippi was the #79 ranked team in terms of overall productivity; with the #74 ranked offense and the #86 ranked defense.  The Rebels best game was a 35-28 victory of #59 ranked Kentucky and their worst game was a 48-49 loss to FCS Jacksonville State.  In terms of their schedule, Mississippi played against a SOS of 59.00, which is "average" as compared to the "league" average SOS of 63.10.

Mississippi again finished the regular season at 8-4 and bowl eligible defeating #42 Oklahoma State to finish the season at 9-4.  The Rebel's best win was over #22 ranked Tennessee and of their worst loss was to #87 Mississippi State all against a SOS that was average compared to the "league".  In terms of overall production, Mississippi was the #29 ranked team with the #47 ranked offense and the #17 ranked defense.


In Houston Nutt's first season at the helm of the Mississippi Rebels they finished the regular season bowl eligible at 8-4 and won their bowl game over #10 ranked Texas Tech to finish with a winning record at 9-4.  The Rebels were the #18 ranked team in overall productivity with the #26 ranked offense and the #22 ranked defense, while playing against an average SOS as compared to the "league".  The Rebels best performance was against #1 ranked Florida in the end of season rankings and their worst loss was to #67 ranked South Carolina the following week.

As you can see there were some very good years under coach Nutt.  Whether that was due to the hand that he inherited or was due to his coaching skill is an open question.  The dramatic fall of the team does raise some questions on his coaching resume and a serious question for an administration looking to hire a new head coach.  Yet, the positives are there and for a team that was willing to take a chance on a well known individual, this might be a chance worth taking.  In today's coaching carousel, given the UConn's program current state a few years with a coach that has the skills that Nutt has may not be that great of a risk.

Here is my an analysis of UConn up the the firing of coach Pasquolini.

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