No, that's not the working title to the Ole Miss athletic director's next novel about international intrigue crossed with Armageddon, but a serious question to be asked after an article was published in the Clarion-Ledger this weekend. Boone revealed to Kyle Veazey the details of Houston Nutt's contract, which included the you've-got-to-be-kidding-me detail of if Ole Miss fires Nutt after the 2011 season, it's on the hook for $6 million. That's right, we'd owe a coach who would be 8-16 in his last two seasons (you better believe he's going 4-8 again this season) and did not fire the one coach everyone wanted to see fired (Tyrone Nix), SIX MILLION DOLLARS.
Normally, I'd file this under your standard version of Ole Miss ineptitude and Pete Boone's inexplicable desire to constantly shovel coal into the furnace of the shitstorm de jour at Ole Miss, but instead, this may be the first ever preemptive strike by Pete Boone.
/waits for everyone to finish sitting down
/waits for Earth to crash into the sun
Ignoring the illogical value of the buyout, which, to be fair, as the article points out, is only one-third of what Arkansas would owe Bobby Petrino, but also mentions the relatively small value Nutt would owe Ole Miss if he left after the 2011 season ($900K), all of which indicate a massacre at the negotiating table, Boone has given Ole Miss fans almost seven months to think about what it would take to end the Houston Nutt era in Oxford. And every Ole Miss fan who isn't freebasing Kool-aid knows that decision is coming. Remember the smattering of good players we had last year? They aren't there anymore. You know who is? TYRONE NIX AND FOUR SCHOLARSHIP CORNERBACKS, TWO OF WHICH WERE NOT ON THE TEAM LAST YEAR.
Throw in a new defensive line, bad receivers, a group of linebackers missing its best member, and a new quarterback, and this is an Ole Miss team racing to 4-8 at best. When that happens, the time for a decision is at hand. Do we fire Nutt and eat the $6 million, or keep him around, hoping he can slap together a 7-5 type of season in 2012 and potentially dig himself out of a hole?
Now, imagine if Boone had not released the details of the buyout. The 2011 season plods along with loss after embarrassing loss. By mid-October, it's obvious this season is done. The question eventually gets asked: What will it take to remove Houston Nutt? Wait, what? How much? SIX MILLION DOLLARS!?!?! PETE BOONE, YOU ARE AN INCOMPETENT SUMBITCH!!!!
And thus, more heat for an athletic director who is already not very popular with the school's fans.
By releasing this information seven months ahead of decision time, Boone has allotted significant time for digestion, a reduction of anger, and, perhaps most importantly, the scraping together of funds (GET IT IN GEAR TOBACCO MONEY PEOPLE) to pay for the end of the Nutt era. When I read the number this weekend, I immediately thought, well, that settles that. Better get used to seeing Nutt on the sidelines until at least 2013. But now, I can totally see myself around late September saying, "Well, it's only six million. That's only a little over three million more than we have to pay him in salary. Surely our money people can take care of that. Oh, hey, look, Mike Leach is on TV!"
Unfortunately, it's also entirely possible that Boone did this simply because he thought people, the majority of whom gave exactly ZERO DOLLARS to fund Houston Nutt's contract, should know the intimate details of the contract. Something about his new commitment to openness. Or whatever. If that's the case, then it marks the first time an Ole Miss administrator has ever fallen ass-backwards into a good situation*.
One final possibility for the reason this is now public information, and I don't know if anyone is truly ready for this mesmerizing look, but it is entirely real:
"Pete. Pete. Can you hear me, Pete? Let them see that contract. Need to see it. See how important it is for me. All that money I get if I start to win. Restore confidence. That's how you do it. W-I-N. Confidence builder. Opportunity to be great. Let 'em see it, Pete. You can do it, Pete. I believe in you."
/believes anything and everything Nutt has to say until the end of time
*Warner Alford, one-time AD who oversaw the worst probation handed down since the SMU death penalty, was fired, and then, remarkably and unbelievably, later hired as head of the Alumni Association, excluded.