A year ago, Rebel Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix was sort of reeling.
He was in Columbia, SC, working as the DC for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina.
And, in his words, he wasn't "the most popular guy" in town.
"It was a year ago this week, in fact, and I wasn't the most popular guy in Columbia when I got a phone call from Coach (Houston) Nutt," said Nix. "Arkansas had just taken us to the woodshed and I didn't know what he wanted.
"He said he was at Ole Miss and he wanted to talk to me about being his defensive coordinator."
Nix was stunned.
"I said 'coach, are you sure you want me? You just beat my brains out.' I thought he was joking," Nix laughed. "He told me he had seen what I can do. He said he had seen my guys hold Georgia out of the end zone for a game and had watched me for years. He said I was his guy."
Then Nutt told Nix something that few head coaches these days will tell someone they have never coached with before.
"He said he wanted to cut me loose and let me run my defense," Nix gushed.
That set off some emotions Tyrone liked having.
"The feeling of being wanted again from a guy who had had as much success as he has rejuvenated me and it showed me he believed in me," said Tyrone. "Honestly, when he called me, my confidence was kind of shaken and he lifted me up and gave me confidence in myself again. He has been a blessing - Ole Miss has been a blessing - to me.
"And when Coach Nutt hired my brother (Derrick), it was doubly satisfying for me. I am thankful every day, every single day, I have this chance."
Nix said he has seen things in Nutt that have amazed him.
"If anyone ever doubted his passion for Ole Miss or this football program, think again," Nix continued. "I have never been around a coach with as much passion and energy as he has. I have also never been around a coach with as much passion as he has for helping young people, not only in football but in life, and that's why I got in this profession, to help mold young people's lives.
"When Coach Nutt comes into our meeting room, I feel a breath of fresh air, and I mean that. I can have a conversation about anything with him, and that's rare with a head coach. Our number one objective is to take care of the kids, have fun and win games. He's changed my life, seriously."
Nix had interviewed with Nutt in 2000, but that union did not come about. It's a conversation Nix never forgot though.
"He wanted me to meet his family. He knew we were going through some adversity with Derrick needing a kidney transplant and he knew how important family is to me. His family is number one with him and he knew it's the same with me," Nix added. "He told me he just wanted me with him one day, and he was confident that day would come."
That day came about a year ago and it's been everything Nix had hoped for, personally and professionally.
"I thank God every day for him and his family. He has lived up to every word he told me," Tyrone said. "He has let me run the defense. He has total confidence in me and the defensive staff. He tells us it's our deal, go get it done.
"I have made some mistakes this year. I had to learn about him and he had to learn about my tendencies, but he forgave me for my errors and I think we got better little by little every week."
Nix says Nutt will jab him every once in a while, but Tyrone takes it the right way.
"Every so often, he'll say something about 'do you think we can force a punt sometime today?' or something like that, but that is just the competitiveness in him coming out," Nix stated. "He is just like me. He hates to lose worse than anything and loves to win. That's all it's about with us."
And early in the year, when things weren't going so well defensively, Nix didn't have to look far to find his biggest supporter - Houston Nutt.
"No doubt he was behind me. We had to go through some rough spots to get to know each other, but he and I are on the same page about everything now," Nix closed. "Here's the deal with Coach Nutt, in one sentence. His philosophy is that every day we should get better. It's just that simple. Get better every minute, every hour, every day, every week and every game. And that's what we try to do with this program.
"It doesn't always work exactly like you plan, but we are always trying to improve in every phase of everything we do. Anything less would not be up to his standards or mine."
Tyrone Nix is reeling no longer.
And neither is the Rebel defense.
Tyrone Nix -
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