Hello, SEC quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Welcome to your new home at Ole Miss. We hope you can leave the turmoil of your time at Oregon behind you. My, thousands of words on one stolen laptop! Presidential assassinations have received fewer words. We're talking about small countries, of course, where everyone wakes up one day and has a bulletin on the door reading:
WE REGRET TO INFORM
YOU THAT YOUR PRESIDENT NGATHA
HAS BEEN SHOT.
YOUR NEW PRESIDENT IS AHEMBE.
HE'S A DECENT CHAP, EVEN IF HE DID SHOOT NGATHA.
If this reference confuses you, it is because you either are unfamiliar with small African countries' politics, or are unfamiliar with SEC politics. (Because football fans often find this note on their door, and if you don't believe us ask Tennessee fans.) To that end, let's get you up to speed.
YOUR COACH: Is barking mad, but you knew that already. We have several varieties of insane in conference. There's actively insane, like Les Miles. Actively insane calls a bomb into the endzone down by one in comfortable field goal range with mere seconds on the clock, or lets the clock run out for two minutes before spiking the ball with no time left. Les Miles is actively insane.
Houston Nutt, your new coach, is a passive kind of insane. He gesticulates wildly. His eyes bug out in his head like a puppets as he implores his players to "be like his daddy's dog." He may have used the bathroom on air with the Solid Verbal, calls the occasional wacky trick play, and GIGGITYs like no man born before him, but he's at root deeply competent. Nutt is 18-8 in two years at Ole Miss despite being overmatched talent-wise at many positions relative to his SEC opposition. He may look insane, but it's a benign madness with largely good results.
WILL MY COACH ASK ME TO FIGHT THE ROBOTS EARLY ONE MORNING WHILE BRANDISHING A FIREARM? Probably not: Nutt would first try to get the robots to hug, understand the passion they share for life and living, and then just throw his quarterback at the robot horde and hoped something good happened when the going got really tough.
ARE YOU IMPLYING OLE MISS MIGHT NOT DEVELOP MY SKILLS AS A QUARTERBACK? No, we wouldn't imply that. That would be a sneaky way of saying it. Houston Nutt, an offensive coach, has not ever had a quarterback drafted as a quarterback by the NFL, win a Davey O'Brien award, sniff a Heisman, or appear to be anything more than a random Juggs machine with legs under center.
Note that we wrote "as a quarterback." This is because Nutt qb Matt Jones was drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft as a wide receiver. He then fulfilled his contract with Jacksonville by getting arrested for cocaine possession. We totally understand this because there is little to do in Jacksonville but keep warm on frigid winter's nights by sitting next to burning mounds of adult diapers and snorting blow. You're only human, Mr. Jones.
This is not to say, Mr. Masoli, that you will not win at Ole Miss. Your legs might keep you alive behind a line with only two returning starters. Brandon Bolden, a teeth-rattler of a running back, could make play action a real threat in the passing game. (As long as you're running off one side of the line only, but still.) Markeith Summers is your one established target, but that's one more than zero, and that's called winning in a resource-deprived environment.
What you will not do is run one of those fancy passing games like Mr. Petrino, your future coach somewhere down the line in the NFL or possibly college*, has up at Nutt's old GIGGITY'ing grounds in Fayetteville. This is Redbird Reading Group material with some Wild Rebel thrown in, and in college that can get you to the Cotton Bowl. Not bad, but not the Swole Shirt of Draft Rating you might be looking for here.
HR SAYS HERE ARE YOUR BENEFITS: A ridiculously high quality of life at Ole Miss. A complete lack of "friends" at first, which is good if that SI piece is clear on what your friends sometimes get you into. A guarantee of television time, since ESPN/SEC/sitting-in-a-tree-and-fucking-wildly. We put the EDSBS bank on this one, and give it its own line:
ONE WILD, INEXPLICABLE VICTORY OVER A SUPERIOR TEAM.
That's always part of the Houston Nutt package. Additionally, we also guarantee this:
AN IMMEDIATE LETDOWN THE FOLLOWING WEEK.
We do not believe in anything that cannot be counted, but sometimes we're willing to admit that we might sort of be wrong on this point when the evidence mounts. Houston Nutt may be a kind of telekinetic mad genius, and thus can with his will influence events on the field with his mind. The trick? He can only do it once or twice a year, and then watches as his power bar in the lower left hand corner of the screen shrinks to a burnt red nub the following week.
Oh, and you'll have to become deeply bonded to lacy cursive script in a hurry, but don't have to learn shit about a mascot. They don't have one unless you count Shepherd Smith, and if you want to know anything about him you can just walk up and ask him in the Grove. He reportedly puts up his own tents with a cigarette in his mouth and a beer in hand, and regardless of what you may think of Fox News you must admit that is some chill bro-ness of a universal nature.
WHAT IS THIS HORRIBLE FEELING I CAN'T ESCAPE? It's called humidity, and you'll never escape it. Cutting your hair was a really, really excellent idea, though the Polynesian Battle-Fro would have sprung to unseen heights in the muggy Mississippi air, and missing that is a bit of a shame.
*We're just playing odds here.