Monday, December 3, 2007

The Week that Was and the Weak that Still Is

Houston Nutt is gone with $3.6 million, a better contract, and half the UA coaching staff. Some folks are glad for him, and some folks are glad to be rid of him. However, Pat Lynch's column today expresses what appears to be a generally accepted premise: "As documented in a recent column by Wally Hall, [University of Arkansas Chancellor John] White is an absolute wizard on all matters pertaining to personnel," and the "distracted and humiliated" Dr. John White Ph.D. "got snookered" by a mediocre football coach. No one has defended White's pathetic performance in the smarmy ordeal.

Some of it is about the obscene waste of money. "What’s the per capita personal income in Arkansas? The latest U. S. government figures I found says it’s $26,874," said Greg Harton of the local Northwest Arkansas Times. "So the University of Arkansas, our nationally competitive student-centered research university serving Arkansas and the world, just handed the equivalent of 119 Arkansans’ annual income over to a coach for leaving his job before his contract ran out. . . . Here’s the deal when it comes to coaching resignations, firings and hirings: Don’t believe a thing. . . . It’s a cynical exercise driven by excessive cash."

Some of it is about dishonesty. Mike Masterson yesterday wrote what John White should have said but didn't and never would. "As chancellor, I concede that I mishandled the investigation of that incident. Instead, I passed it to Frank Broyles, who pitched it back to Houston so he could investigate his own role, his friend and his family. As a public servant, I should have grabbed this bull by its horns and pursued the truth on behalf of the citizens I serve. ...As a result of not doing so, we found ourselves in the unenviable position of likely facing future humiliations, further revelations and additional controversy should Houston remain. Lord knows, no one involved in this administration, including me, cares to spend any more time in that smelly barrel. Make no mistake, no one else is responsible for this action today, not the departed recruits or their families, not the media who told you about it or anyone other than all those up on this hill who actually created the sad situation by improper choices and actions."

Some of it is about competence. Regardless of whether fans supported or opposed the Nutt sacking, no one has offered a whit of praise for White's performance. Yesterday's editorial in the Northwest Arkansas Times was among the more generous. "Houston Nutt became very rich during his time in Fayetteville. We don’t recognize the world Nutt and White live in, one in which a man earns $3.2 million for quitting or one in which grown men hand over that kind of money for the sake of public relations and easing the “divorce.” What did Razorback Nation receive for this remarkable bit of generosity? Nothing. In fact, less than nothing. . . . Shockingly, Chancellor White did not insist as part of Nutt’s going-away gift that Nutt agree not to take a job with another Southeastern Conference school or even a divisional rival. So the leaders of the UA have also given a generous gift to a competitor."

Letters to the editor in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette were more direct. Randy Vohs of Siloam Springs wrote, "We must have stupid written all over our faces. ...Why didn't Chancellor John A. White just give him the keys to Razorback Stadium? ...We can't afford much more of White's negotiations." Lewis Kaslow of Bentonville added, "Chancellor John White gave an emotionally moving speech, as did Frank Broyles, until you realize that the fix was in to take care of Nutt days before. This action will do nothing to heal the fan base and in fact will create a deeper divide. There is one more person who needs to resign: White."

Get over it. White will not resign, nor will he be fired.

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