Nutt resigns as Razorbacks running backs coach

Updated: July 18, 2007, 7:49 PM ET
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK -- Tim Horton will have to adjust quickly to his new job as Arkansas' running backs coach -- the season starts in about six weeks.

With Darren McFadden and Felix Jones around, Horton needn't fret too much.

"Coach Nutt said [we] had a couple of pretty good lettermen coming back at running back," Horton said.

Horton was introduced Wednesday as the newest member of the Razorbacks' staff, replacing Danny Nutt, who stepped down for health reasons. Nutt, the younger brother of Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt, has experienced a recurrence of bleeding from his brain stem.

Horton was hired as Air Force's offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach earlier this year, but he'll now return to Arkansas. Although Horton once played for the Razorbacks, the move is difficult for him because of Danny Nutt's condition.

"Obviously, to come at this time of the year and to come under these circumstances is less than ideal," Horton said. "With Danny Nutt's health being like it is and him being a friend, there's things more important than football out there."

Horton inherits perhaps the nation's best group of running backs. McFadden and Jones both rushed for more than 1,000 yards as sophomores last season, with McFadden finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting. Fullback Peyton Hillis is a dependable blocker and pass catcher.

Arkansas went 10-4 last season and finished with a No. 15 ranking.

Horton will try to be up to speed by the time the Razorbacks start practice the first week of August. They open the season against Troy on Sept. 1.

"I've been doing some cramming," Horton said. "There's going to be a learning curve for me."

Horton was the running backs coach at Kansas State in 2006. Before that, he was at Air Force for a first tour of duty from 1999-2005, coaching receivers for six years and running backs for one.

Horton began coaching at Appalachian State in 1990. He was a receiver at Arkansas from 1986-89.

"We are excited to add a former Razorback and another outstanding coach to our staff," Houston Nutt said in a statement. "He was in a great position as offensive coordinator at Air Force and so we knew it would be extremely tough to convince him to join us especially this close to the upcoming season. I know he is excited to be back home and we are fortunate that he is once again a part of our program."

Horton's father, Harold Horton, is a vice president of the Razorback Foundation, the school's private fundraising arm. Tim Horton went to Conway High School, and he said his family's ties to Arkansas were a major factor in convincing him to return.

Horton said he hasn't been back much since his playing days, but he's looking forward to coaching in the Southeastern Conference -- even if it means giving up a chance to be an offensive coordinator this year.

"When you leave a position of leadership, and to come this late in the game, it was very, very difficult," Horton said. "Troy Calhoun, the new head football coach [at Air Force], was great to me."

"I'm here because of family," Horton continued. "My mom and dad live here. My sister lives here. My wife Lauren's from Conway."

The Razorbacks' coaching staff will have a new look in 2007. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn left in January for Tulsa and was replaced by David Lee; Alex Wood went from quarterbacks to receivers coach; defensive backs coach Louis Campbell is becoming an assistant athletic director; and Chris Vaughn is moving from on-campus recruiting director to safeties coach.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press