In 2013, former Arkansas and USC quarterback Mitch Mustain, along with director Matthew Wolfe, released “The Identity Theft of Mitch Mustain.” The 93-minute documentary chronicles Mustain’s rise (he was the top quarterback prospect in America in 2005) and subsequent fall (he was benched during his freshman year at Arkansas in 2006 and later transferred to USC, where he was a backup for Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley, among others).
Mustain attributes his lack of success to several people, including former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, who declined to participate in the documentary.
“Yeah, I’ve heard about this thing for quite a while, and the last thing I wanted to do is go be on that nonsense show,” Nutt, now a CBS Sports Network college football analyst, said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It’s a shame. It’s amazing they didn’t say anything about the identity theft when Pete Carroll had him. He didn’t play out there, either. It’s a shame because, really, he’s a pretty good kid, but there’s a lot of people around him that gave him a lot of bad advice. You try to treat everybody right. You can’t play everybody. I know quarterbacks want to play yesterday. I understand that. But now to go start talking about identity theft and what I did? Come on.”
Mustain was a Gatorade, Parade and USA Today Player of the Year. He went 8-0 as a freshman at Arkansas but was benched for Casey Dick, who was returning from injury.
“In my 31 years of coaching, that was the worst scenario ever,” Nutt said. “(Mustain) came out of Springdale, he’s a 5-star Parade this, Parade that, and Casey Dick, my starting quarterback was hurt at the time. So he played and played in the first six or seven games, and of course don’t forget the supporting cast was pretty good: Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Peyton Hillis, Marcus Monk. So we didn’t ask him to do much. But once Casey Dick was ready, we put him back in. That’s where everything went crazy.
“It’s a tough situation when you have parents, you got a lot of people there in the community, that have this notion that this guy should be a Heisman Trophy candidate as a freshman and he should be doing this, he should be doing that,” Nutt continued. “They filter this guy through all this noise when he should just be a freshman and just take one day at a time, go to school, go to college and be a part of a team. It’s not about you; it’s about a team. And it’s hard. It wasn’t navigated very good. My boss got let go. Frank Broyles, longtime icon here, they move him out. So I said, ‘You know, maybe it’s time for me to go.’ I was there 10 years and that’s when I went to Ole Miss. But it’s a shame. It’s a shame. I think it’s a sad, sad story, and a lot of it is ridiculous.”
Brian Jones wondered why the Arkansas upperclassmen didn’t put Mustain in his place more.
“Well, that was part of the problem: They did, and he couldn’t handle it,” Nutt said. “They got after him pretty good. I made sure there wasn’t any hazing. There was a book that came out and basically Gus (Malzahn) had a reporter follow his high school team around his senior year, and a book came out.”
Malzahn was Mustain’s high school coach.
“There was a lot of animosity that I had to temper that (Mustain) didn’t even know about,” Nutt said. “I said, ‘Guys, back off him a little bit now. He’s just a baby. There’s a book that came out. He probably didn’t know what he was saying.’ So you talk about ownership in a locker room. We had it. That’s we got to Atlanta that year.”