The Aftermath

Houston Nutt

Rebel Coach Houston Nutt and his staff cracked the Scout.com Top 20 with their recruiting efforts. Just like the nine-win season, the key was closing strong.

One of my best friends and I were eating breakfast in the Beacon this morning and, of course, the main topic was Signing Day.

My buddy sucker punched me.

"You know," he said with a downtrodden look on his face, "there was one thing missing yesterday. It ruined the day for me. . . "

He had my wheels spinning. What could he possibly think was wrong with that Signing Day? Bam.

". . . I kept waiting on that gut-wrenching defection we seem to always have. I missed the tension of not knowing about someone all day and then losing him at the end."

He got me. Presented the bait, got my attention and set the hook.

Cynicism aside, he was right.

Although the excitement level of Signing Day was at an all-time high, there wasn't a lot of drama. There wasn't a lot of anxiety over who might not come to Ole Miss.

After longshot Memphis WR Marlon Brown decided not to cast his lot with Ole Miss on Tuesday night, which was somewhat expected, Wednesday was a breeze.

Pat Patterson, come on down. . . Bobby Massie, pick up the Rebel cap and get it over with. . . Raymond Cotton, don't worry, he's just picking us later. . . Alex Williams, he's just playing with the media, he's a Rebel. . . domino after domino falling in line, 38 of them, to be exact.

By 10 o'clock or so, there was no tension at all, just good news flowing from every direction, in bunches. Signee after signee rolling in like the floodgates had been opened on a swollen river.

Coach Houston Nutt and his staff, for all intents and purposes, had swept their board clean.

And the beat goes on.

Nutt's analogy in the post-Signing Day press conference was right on the mark.

"Recruiting went just like the season did," he explained. "We started off kind of slowly, built some momentum and finished strong. We closed at the end."

I'll say.

Make no mistake about it, recruiting is a sales job. The same principles apply as for a siding salesman, insurance peddler or car dealer.

There's only one objective, one satisfactory result.

Close the deal.

Second place does not get the sale and is no better than 12th place.

Nutt and his staff closed the deal, efficiently and without fail. There really is not much more to say.

Cotton - check. Massie - check. Drummond - check. Hornsby - check. Mason - check. Patterson - check. Shackelford, Simon, Williams, Gaines, Barksdale, Marry, Ritter, Simon, Scott, Neat, two Campbells - check, check and check. 38 players, 38 check marks.

Frankly, Ole Miss fans have never seen anything like it, and they couldn't get enough.

After years of being left at the altar, we were insatiable. Roughly 4,000 fans stayed logged in to The Ole Miss Spirit website all day. Nearly 700 were a constant in our chat room. Nearly 600 showed up at the QB Club Signing Day party in the South End Zone, a couple of hundred more than ever before.

Everyone could smell a good day coming, but there was no way when we woke up Wednesday morning any of us thought the chips, every single one of them, would all fall the Rebs' way.

In recruiting, it just doesn't happen that way.

As my buddy succinctly pointed out over two eggs and bacon, where was the disappointment? Where was the agony? Where was the "well, we didn't really want him anyway" drivel? Where was the "we'll be fine without him" line? Where was the "well, so-and-so B-lister has as much potential" desperation thinking?

We didn't get our opportunity to lament.

Nutt and his staff deprived us of that tradition, those killjoys. Sarcasm duly noted.

Now, as we put this one in the books, all we can do is look forward with no "fish tales" of the one that got away.

Normally, you don't like "new folks" coming in and changing traditions.

Not closing strongly in recruiting is one I am glad Houston decided not to live by.

As Houston says all the time, "keep it rolling guys."

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