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NATIONAL INSIDER

SEC takes a role in the Nutt(cracker)

September 29, 2007|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

If you look at it one way, Danny Nutt picked a good week to find himself in the news, because a majority of the national attention on college football coaches, past or present, has been focused elsewhere (see. . . hear . . . download Mike Gundy).

In this particular case in the coaching file, Nutt got lost in the shuffle. Danny, the brother of Arkansas head Coach Houston Nutt and a former running backs coach for the Razorbacks, has been told by the Southeastern Conference to get lost . . . or, more precisely, to stay away from the coaches' booth and the team bench during games.

What's going on here?

Danny Nutt resigned in July because of a recurring health problem that involved bleeding from his brain stem, and Tom Horton replaced him on Houston Nutt's staff. But Danny's condition improved and he joined the team on the field before its first game against Troy. Plus, the Razorbacks have worn helmets with Danny Nutt's initials.

But last weekend, when Arkansas lost to Kentucky, ESPN showed Danny wearing headphones in the coaching booth. So Charles Bloom, the SEC's associate commissioner, said Nutt can't be around -- unless he wants to be on the sidelines outside the team bench area -- because that's one coach too many.

Danny Nutt had no immediate reaction. He's a tough Nutt to crack. The Razorbacks play North Texas tonight.

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Stark contrast

There's still time for one last word about Oklahoma State's Gundy and his colorful and loud post-game tirade of a week ago. It's been relatively quiet all week down on the edge of the Big Thicket in Huntsville, Tex., where Sam Houston State of the Southland Conference takes on Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., in the Cowboys' first game since Gundy's rant that has been YouTubed to death.

Bearkats Coach Todd Whitten said he heard about Gundy's much publicized opinion about a column written by Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson, but he hasn't seen the video.

So don't expect Whitten to unload on Cody Stark, the Sam Houston State beat writer for the Huntsville Item (circulation 9,000).

"He's a football coach and not a talker," said Stark, who wrote a critical column after the Bearkats' 17-13 victory over underdog Angelo State and never heard a word from Whitten in reaction. "I'd be surprised if he reads anything like that. He's just not that kind of guy."

Now that he knows Gundy is that kind of guy, Stark is looking forward to Gundy's post-game news conference today.

"Part of me is saying I'd hate to be a beat writer for his team. I think he could have handled it better. You have a problem with a writer, you take him or her aside in private and don't air your dirty laundry in public. Hopefully Coach Gundy will be more cooperative this time."

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Attention Sooners

You're No. 7.18! Oklahoma has been rated No. 1 in the all-time Associated Press poll survey, according to an average of most appearances in the weekly polls since they started in 1936.

Of course, only the last poll every season matters, but researcher Robert Lemieux of McDaniel College found that Oklahoma has appeared in 68% of all the polls, with an average position of 7.18.

The next four are Notre Dame, Michigan, Alabama and Ohio State.

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Ground game

Who is Danny Woodhead? He's a 5-8, 200-pound senior at Chadron State, a Division II school in Nebraska. The Eagles are 4-0 and Woodhead is only 288 yards short of becoming the NCAA's all-divisions career rushing leader.

With four games of gaining over 300 yards this season, Woodhead has a chance to set the record at today's homecoming game against New Mexico Highlands.

The record holder is R.J. Bowers of Division III Grove City College in Pennsylvania, who had 7,353 yards in 1997-2000.

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Ohio players

Something is happening in Cincinnati that hasn't happened in 53 years. The Bearcats are 4-0, their best start since 1954. And not only that, they're ranked 24th, their first national ranking since 1967.

Receiving a large helping of the credit is first-year Coach Brian Kelly.

"He got us believing 'Why not us?' " cornerback Mike Mickens said. "We're taking it to another level."

Even though former coach Mark Dantonio did his share before leaving for Michigan State, there just wasn't a lot of interest at Nippert Stadium. Cincinnati averaged 21,000 last year in the 35,000-seat stadium. But last week, when the Bearcats overwhelmed Marshall, 40-14, a sellout crowd of 35,097 packed the place.

The Cincinnati players were so enthused by the turnout that they ran over and stood before the student section to salute them before the kickoff. After the game, the players joined the band and sang the school fight song.

(The memorable lyrics: "Cheer Cincinnati, Cincy will win; Fight to the finish, never give in; You do your best boys, We'll do the rest boys; On on to victory, Rah! Rah! Rah! Rah!")

Kelly coached a no-huddle, spread offense that was a hit at Central Michigan and he was certain he could make an impact by taking his show to Cincinnati.

Said Kelly: "Maybe it's just that I'm a thick-headed Irishman that believes he can do it."

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thomas.bonk@latimes.com

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