Houston Nutt to speak at annual FCA Week of Champions banquet

mmccombs@islandpacket.comMarch 15, 2013 

SPORTS FBC-COTTON 24 FT

Former Ole Miss football coach Houston Nutt

SHARON M. STEINMAN — File -- McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Houston Nutt and the FCA Week of Champions were a perfect fit.

"I've been a big fan of FCA since high school," Nutt said Thursday.

The FCA has announced it has secured the former Arkansas and Ole Miss head football coach and current CBS Sports college football analyst to be the keynote speaker for the banquet to wrap up the 35th Week of Champions, set to be held June 17-21 around Beaufort and Jasper counties.

Nutt calls himself a "fortunate victim of circumstance." His father was a longtime coach and teacher at the Arkansas School For The Deaf, and Nutt grew up around coaches and sports.

In the company of those coaches, and later mentors like Frank Broyles, Lou Holtz and Jimmy Johnson, Nutt said he learned lessons that he can pass on to younger athletes.

"My goal was always to be in the NFL, the NBA. My goal was to play both. That ought to tell you where my thinking was," Nutt said. "I've learned that God plays a very important role and has a plan for everybody's life. Sometimes doors shut for a reason.

"I know what these kids are thinking when they're playing. I know their dreams and their aspirations. Sometimes you fall down, and they have to learn to get back up and come back fighting. Sometimes a setback can be a positive."

Nutt was 135-98 as a head coach at Murray State (1993-96), Boise State (1997), Arkansas (1998-2007) and Ole Miss (2008-11) over 19 seasons. He led Murray State to two Ohio Valley Conference titles and the Racers' first NCAA FCS playoff victory, took Arkansas to three SEC championship games and eight bowl games in 10 seasons in Fayetteville and led Mississippi to two Cotton Bowl victories in four seasons in Oxford.

Nutt said a sports camp like the Week of Champions, where former pro athletes mentor young athletes, is invaluable.

"You're going to hear about the negative, about the poor decisions some of our athletes and our heroes make. You're going to hear about it on the six o'clock news," Nutt said. "For our young athletes to be around these role models and athletes, you just can't put a price on it."

Nutt's commitment is not the only news regarding this year's FCA Week of Champions, the first since the departure of longtime volunteers Gary and Wanda Weatherington and Greg and Connie Brezina, who had guided the organization since they founded it.

In other developments:

  • Former N.C. State basketball legend Rodney Monroe has committed to lead basketball clinics throughout the week. Monroe, the 1991 ACC Player of the Year and the Wolfpack's all-time leading scorer, is now the head of basketball operations and head boys basketball coach at SouthLake Christian Academy in Huntersville, N.C.

  • Monroe played one season in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks and 15 more seasons of professional basketball in the CBA, Australia, Italy, Israel, Cyprus and Spain.

  • NASCAR will make its first appearance at Week of Champions. One of Michael Waltrip Racing's NAPA Sprint Cup cars will visit Hilton Head Christian Academy, where team members will provide pit crew demonstrations, meet athletes and share testimonies.

  • The Week of Champions locations will be consolidated. Aside from the NASCAR demonstration at Hilton Head Christian Academy, all sports clinics will be held at Hilton Head Island High School, Bluffton High School and the Boys & Girls Club of Jasper County.

  • The Sunday evening prior to Week of Champions (June 16), there will be a fellowship and preparation for the athletes, their families, FCA Week of Champions committee members and volunteers at Hilton Head Christian Academy, highlighted by a concert by Christian recording artist The Advice.

  • "I think having the FCA involved has expanded the Week of Champions' ministry," said FCA Week of Champions director Chuck Workman.

    Workman said the FCA's involvement has opened doors to even more potential involvement from athletes.

    "It is now the largest FCA camp in the country, and there are athletes that love the Lord and just want to have an impact on a student's life. They have the opportunity to use their Christian character and leadership ability to have a Christ-like impact on our students."

    According to Workman, the Weatheringtons will be honored in some fashion, as well, though he did not have specifics.

    "Their part in the Week of Champions ministry will be honored," Workman said. "Now that FCA and Week of Champions have joined, I think we've learned to respect the Week of Champions' ministry and the Weatheringtons' part in it even more now that we're involved."

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