THIS DAY IN SPORTS: Houston Nutt’s one interesting season


This Day In Sports…August 30, 1997, 25 years ago today:

Houston Nutt makes his debut as head coach at Boise State, watching his team fall to Cal State-Northridge 63-23 before a record crowd of almost 27,000 in newly-expanded Bronco Stadium. It was a stunning rout, but Boise State would rebound to come within 49 seconds of upsetting Wisconsin a week later in front of 73,000 fans at Camp Randall Stadium. Nutt’s one season with the Broncos was strange indeed.  

Nutt had come from a successful four-year run at Division I-AA Murray State and was tasked with taping a fragile Boise State program back together. He had a roster full of forlorn players who had lost their beloved head coach Pokey Allen to a rare form of cancer the preceding December. The Broncos were coming off the worst season in school history, with Allen having missed all but two games while he was in Canada undergoing alternative cancer treatment. While Nutt went just 4-7 (amended to 5-6 after Northridge forfeited for using an ineligible player), he did succeed in gluing the locker room back together.

When the Broncos lost 58-0 at No. 15 Washington State (the last time Boise State was shut out) to fall to 1-4, Nutt talked about how proud he was of his team. Some people laughed, but the Broncos went 3-4 the rest of the way. They finished with a 30-23 overtime win at Idaho, Boise State’s first win in Moscow in 16 years. Nutt left less than two weeks later, boarding a private jet in the middle of the night to take his dream job at Arkansas. A faction of Bronco Nation will never forget, but stranger things have happened.  

At Arkansas, Nutt led the Razorbacks to three New Year’s Day bowl games in his first five years. But, as they say, everything has a shelf life, and by his 10th season in Fayetteville, Nutt had worn out his welcome. Arkansas beat No. 1 LSU in the final game of the 2007 season, and Nutt resigned three days later. He resurfaced at Ole Miss shortly thereafter. Mired in a winless season in 2011, Nutt was fired by the Rebels. You see him now as a studio analyst on CBS, often for Boise State games on CBS Sports Network.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)


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