Nix joins Rebels

Published 6:19 pm Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mississippi continued Tuesday to lure coaches away from other Southeastern Conference schools, hiring South Carolina defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix for the same position with the Rebels.

Nix has been running defenses for the last seven years at Southern Miss and South Carolina. At 35, he is among the nation’s youngest coordinators.

“I think the No. 1 factor that just kept coming back, kept coming back is it’s home,” new Mississippi coach Houston Nutt said of Nix’s motivation behind the lateral move. “It’s Mississippi. That helps me. So when I’m riding with him, I don’t have to get the road map out all the time.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Nix, who did not return messages seeking comment left on his cell phone, will return Wednesday to the state he has spent most of his adult life in after growing up in Attalla, Ala.

Nix said in a statement he was glad to work for “one of the best head coaches in the game” in Spurrier. However, Nix said he thought “the best thing for me at this time is to go work for the University of Mississippi and see what we can get done there.”

He was a linebacker and team captain at Southern Miss from 1990-93, then joined outgoing coach Jeff Bower’s staff as an assistant coach for 10 years. He coached every position and served as defensive coordinator from 2001-04. He was the youngest coordinator in the country at 29 when Bower promoted him.

Steve Spurrier hired him as defensive co-coordinator in 2005 and he worked the job alone the last two years. The Gamecocks were tops in the SEC in pass defense and fifth in the nation this year. Last season the team was sixth in the conference in scoring defense and 29th in the nation despite returning just one starter.

“We wish him the very best at Ole Miss except when they play the Gamecocks,” said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who will bring the Gamecocks to Oxford on Oct. 4. ““Tyrone Nix is a good person, a wonderful family man and an outstanding football coach. We understand change is part of the coaching profession and hopefully this will be a good move for everyone. I can say to the Gamecocks that I will try my best to hire a proven, outstanding defensive coordinator.”

The hiring settles another question surrounding Nutt’s new Ole Miss staff, which has been coming together slowly. David Lee, who worked for Nutt at Arkansas until his resignation last month, will join the Rebels as offensive coordinator following the Razorbacks’ appearance in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1.

Nutt announced last week that he had also hired Kim Dameron and Ron Dickerson Jr. from Louisiana-Monroe.

Current Arkansas assistants Tracy Rocker, Chris Vaughn, James Shibest and Mike Markuson are considering joining Nutt at Ole Miss.

Nutt said defensive coordinator Reggie Herring will not be joining his new staff. Herring is serving as Arkansas’ interim head coach.

“I talked to Reggie very hard,” Nutt said. “Reggie is going full, full bore on the Arkansas job and I’m giving him everything I have to help achieve that goal. Reggie also has a lot of other opportunities and at this time I needed someone to recruit right now. He couldn’t do that and he understands that.”

Ironically, Nix replaces John Thompson as the Rebels’ defensive coordinator. Thompson, also a former USM DC, was co DC with Nix at South Carolina two years ago before leaving.