OXFORD — Ole Miss football coach Houston Nutt will resign at the end of the season.
Nutt will coach the Rebels’ last three games this year,” athletic director Pete Boone said at a press conference Monday, where also announced that he will step down as athletic AD by the end of 2012.
The Rebels have lost 12 consecutive Southeastern Conference games, including Saturday’s 30-13 lost to Kentucky. Ole Miss is 2-7 this year, including 0-6 in the SEC. Nutt is 24-23 in his four years in Oxford.
“I’m grateful to coach Nutt for his commitment to our university and his commitment to our football program,” Ole Miss Chancellor Dr. Dan Jones said. “I know we’re all disappointed in the lack of success over the last two years.”
Nutt is making approximately $2.7 million this season. Boone said the coach has a $6 million buyout clause in his contract.
If no one on Nutt’s staff is retained by the next coach, the total buyout will be about $8 million.
Nutt’s stunning fall was hard to fathom just two years ago. The veteran coach came to Oxford after a 10-year tenure at Arkansas and immediately led Ole Miss to an 18-8 record over his first two seasons, including back-to-back Cotton Bowl victories over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
It was the Rebels’ best back-to-back seasons in nearly 40 years.
The downfall began in the 2010 season opener, when Ole Miss was stunned by lowly Jacksonville State 49-48 in double overtime. It was the first time in program history that Ole Miss has lost to a team from the Football Championship Subdivision level.
Things never improved from that point. The Rebels finished with a 4-8 record last season and have been even worse this year. Though Ole Miss has a core of encouraging freshmen, including receivers Nickolas Brassell and Donte Moncrief, it wasn’t enough to win an SEC game or persuade the Ole Miss administration that Nutt was the right person for the job going forward.
Ole Miss has been a largely mediocre program for decades, but the Rebels’ recent troubles were particularly embarrassing. The 12 straight SEC losses are the most in program history and Nutt has lost two straight to rival Mississippi State. A fan-based group called Forward Rebels bought several full-page advertisements in area newspapers, criticizing the administration and calling for new leadership.
The new coach will be the Rebels’ fifth since 1998.
Nutt, 54, said during his weekly teleconference with reporters that he hadn’t heard from the administration about his job status.
“It’s time for everyone to get on board and enjoying this experience that is Ole Miss,” Boone said.
Boone has been the Ole Miss athletic director for 14 years over two separate tenures. His last two football hires — Ed Orgeron and Houston Nutt — have not turned out well.
Jones said that former Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning and FedEx executive vice president Mike Glenn will lead the search for both a new football coach and an athletic director.
Ole Miss assistant coaches and players streamed through the football facilities on Monday afternoon, but didn’t receive official word of the news until just before the announcement.