When I first got wind Tyrone Nix was leaving South Carolina and the Old Ball Coach to come to Ole Miss with Houston Nutt as the Rebel defensive coordinator, I thought it was a joke.
Not a ha-ha joke, but a joke to draw a response of shock followed closely by a "just kidding." A prank to get my hopes up for a fleeting moment only to snatch them away.
I have a couple of friends who are like that and I reciprocate in kind with them. I know, we have a mean streak with each other.
Anyway, I didn't believe it and kind of dusted it off.
Then, I got it verified and confirmed. Still had a hard time believing it.
Things like that rearely seem to happen to us. At least lately.
But then I got to thinking about the fortunate - for us - chain of events that brought Nutt to Oxford and Ole Miss.
One day we were the 12th-best football program in the SEC and two days later we had taken a major step in righting that wayward, sinking ship by hiring Houston, who is "right" for us in so many ways, as you will see soon enough, if you haven't already come to that conclusion.
With a guy as experienced and well-thought of as Nutt, you expect Tyrone Nix-ish hires, just not that quickly and not that "out of nowhere."
After a week or so of rampant speculation on a DC - would it be Herring? Rocker? Dameron? Thompson? - Houston pulls a fast one, going outside the box in his thinking, but making a hire that made perfect sense. In fact, it makes so much sense I'm surprised it never crossed anyone's mind. Well, actually it did. Several years ago when David Cutcliffe was looking for a DC, one Archie Manning suggested Tyrone, but that is another story in itself.
Tyrone Nix is a Mississippi football icon, in his own way. A Southern Mississippi Hall of Famer, Tyrone was one of those Golden Eagles you watched as a Rebel and asked yourself "why didn't we get him?" Like Reggie Collier or Brent Favre or Adelius Thomas.
Tenacious linebacker. A true leader. Someone so respected by Jeff Bower that the veteran coach wouldn't let him leave USM. He put im on his staff and ended up naming him the youngest defensive coordinator in the country in 2001 at the ripe old age of 29.
And while Tyrone had already left an indelible mark on the USM landscape as a player, his influence was just as strong as a coach.
He was, and is, a USM hero and Mississippi football benchmark of success.
And the coolest thing about Tyrone is he was well-respected by State fans and Ole Miss fans as well, if I dare be so bold to speak for anyone else. That is really rare in our state.
Anyway, short story long, it's hard not to get excited about having Tyrone Nix on board with the coaching staff Houston has put together.
Tyrone is known as a player's coach. His teams are known to play hard from start to finish, just like he did during his playing days.
We will all see how it works out, but here's one prediction, and I don't think it's a bold one.
You will see marked improvement in the Ole Miss defense next year based on swagger and attitude alone.
Welcome aboard, Tyrone Nix, Rebel Defensive Coordinator. Doesn't that have a good ring to it?
Nix decision out of the blue
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