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Published Oct. 25, 2008

Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Houston Nutt chose his words carefully all week, refusing to speculate on how fans will greet him when he returns to Arkansas as coach of SEC West Division rival Mississippi.

Others have been a little more blunt.

"I had somebody tell me ... 'Some places you go, they give out Bobblehead dolls,'" Ole Miss color analyst Pete Cordelli said. "He said, 'It's going to be Houston Nutt Pinata Night up in Fayetteville.'"

Nutt left the Razorbacks in the offseason and took over at Ole Miss. Today, the Hogs host the Rebels in Fayetteville.

"We gave a lot of effort and a lot of energy to that program for 10 years," Nutt said. "Every single day from daylight to exhaustion."

In 2006 the Razorbacks started 10-1 but lost their final three, and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn left to join Tulsa. Then quarterback Mitch Mustain transferred, and news broke about a nasty e-mail a friend of Nutt's family sent to Mustain before he left.

"Yeah, that was a little bit different," Nutt said this week. "There's a lot of passion."

MICHIGAN: First-year coach Rich Rodriguez is finally under contract. He signed a six-year deal for at least $2.5-million annually, agreed upon when he left West Virginia in December.

Other sports

MEN'S SOCCER: USF clinched a spot in the Big East tournament, winning 1-0 at Villanova. The Bulls (10-3-2, 6-2-1), with Jeff Attinella making seven saves, broke the school single-season shutout record with their 10th. Senior defender Yohance Marshall scored in the sixth minute for USF, which is ranked No.12 in the coaches poll and is second in the league's Red Division. The top five in each division make the tournament.

MEN'S BASKETBALL: Russ Pennell was named interim coach at Arizona, replacing Lute Olson, who retired Thursday. ... Nevada's Brandon Fields and Ahyaro Phillips pleaded not guilty to a shoplifting charge.

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