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Houston Nutt coached at Arkansas for 10 seasons. But he had less than glamorous duties at prior stops as an assistant coach.

Houston Nutt, Mark Stoops tell tales of unrelenting paranoia for college football coaches

Nick Cole

College football coaches are among the most paranoid men in the country. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt can attest to that.

And they did in a fun new feature story from ESPN’s Alex Scarborough, which runs through crazy tales of college football coaching paranoia over the years.

Nutt, in particular, had a first-hand account of a dirty job — diving into garbage dumpsters as a graduate assistant under Jimmy Johnson at Oklahoma State.

Sometimes all he’d find was garbage, but other times he’d stumble upon a discarded depth chart or a play sheet with a few notes scribbled on it that had been carelessly left behind, he says.

The stories get even crazier, with former USC coach Peter Carroll reportedly having graduate assistants dig through garbage to retrieve any valuable intel that other teams could be seeking, along with planting fake information in its place.

All in the name of winning.

Which Nutt, who was forced to give up head coaching gigs with the Razorbacks and the Rebels because of a lack of victories, tells Scarborough is the underlying force that drives coaches to do crazy things like sift through hot garbage in hopes of a peek at a play sheet that may not even be used by the opposing team.

“They pay you to win,” Nutt said via ESPN. “You can talk about community service, you can talk about the graduation rates, and all that is very important. But I got fired for the first time in my life because I didn’t win enough.”

Nutt may be out of the SEC now, but Kentucky coach Mark Stoops stands as an example of how the league’s coaches still take the possibility of cheating seriously.

“If I see a car parked on a hill for too long, somebody is going to go up there and check it out and see if somebody is there,” Stoops told ESPN. “You definitely keep track of what’s going on and who’s at your practices.”

He’s not the only one. Alabama is known to run a very tight ship with security around its practice facility as well.

The motto “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin'” appears to be alive and well in the minds of college football coaches. Especially in the SEC.