Dec. 20, 2004
Columbia, S.C. – Tyrone Nix, who earned the reputation of building outstanding defenses in his four seasons as defensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi, has been named assistant football coach at the University of South Carolina. Nix will share the defensive coordinator title along with John Thompson, who the Gamecocks hired last week, and will also handle the defensive line. The hiring of Nix completes first-year USC head coach Steve Spurrier’s coaching staff.
During his 10 years on the Southern Miss staff, Nix coached every position on defense. The past four seasons, he served as the Golden Eagles’ defensive coordinator and inside linebackers’ coach. In that 10-year period, he has tutored 12 All-Conference USA selections, four C-USA Defensive Player of the Year performers, and six All-Americas. USM has also enjoyed team success with Nix aboard, winning four C-USA championships and earning seven post-season bowl berths.
“We feel really good about the addition of Tyrone Nix to our staff,” said Coach Spurrier. “He will serve as co-coordinator of our defense, along with John Thompson. Tyrone has an excellent track record for coaching outstanding defenses and he is very familiar with John Thompson and Dave Wommack’s style of defensive play, as the three of them coached together at Southern Miss. We believe Tyrone is an excellent coach and an excellent recruiter.”
Nix’s Southern Miss defenses ranked among the nation’s toughest over the past few years. In 2004, the Golden Eagles ranked second in the conference in pass efficiency defense, were tied for first with Louisville with 16 interceptions, ranked second in scoring defense and third in total defense. USM finished 7-5 this past season, topped off by a victory in the New Orleans Bowl last week.
In 2003, the Southern Miss defensive unit ranked No. 5 in the nation in pass defense, No. 13 in pass efficiency defense, No. 14 in scoring defense and No. 23 in total defense. A trio of All-Americas – Rod Davis, Michael Boley and Etric Pruitt – led the defensive effort. Davis was a three-time All-America and is the C-USA career tackle leader (526) and tackle for loss leader (60.5). He is the first three-time All-America in the history of the school. Nix’s coaching efforts were recognized that season, as he was honored as one of the top assistant coaches in the nation, finishing as a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding assistant football coach.
In 2002, Southern Miss ranked No. 4 nationally in pass efficiency defense, No. 10 in pass defense, and No. 15 in scoring defense. Going into the 2001 season, Nix had the distinction of being the youngest coordinator in the country (29 years of age at the time) but he quickly used that status to drive himself to even loftier heights in his profession. Despite losing seven defensive starters from the 2000 squad, Nix’s 2001 USM defense ranked among the nation’s leaders in scoring defense (8th), total defense (11th), pass efficiency defense (12th), rushing defense (13th) and turnover margin (21st). As defensive backs coach for the Golden Eagles in 2000, three of Nix’s players signed NFL contracts, including Leo Barnes, who was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and C-USA’s Defensive Player of the Year. In 1999, Nix coached Adalius Thomas, who was an All-America pick and member of the 2000 NFL Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Nix was a standout linebacker at Southern Miss (1990-93) and was team captain his senior year. Nix’s position coach his final two seasons at USM was John Thompson, who he will now help coordinate the Gamecock defense with. Nix coached alongside Thompson (1995-98) and Dave Wommack (1995-2000), USC’s newly-hired secondary coach, during his 10 seasons at Southern Miss.
“Tyrone Nix is a terrific football coach and a terrific person,” said Coach Thompson. “It will be great to be back coaching with him and Dave Wommack again.”
“Becoming a part of the South Carolina program presents itself as a tremendous opportunity,” said Nix. “I look forward to working with some coaches I’ve worked with before and especially look forward to working for a head coach like Steve Spurrier. I’d like to become a head coach one day, and this will be a great opportunity to be around some outstanding football coaches.”
Born September 30, 1972, Nix is a native of Attalla, Ala., and earned his bachelor’s degree from Southern Miss in 1995. He is married to the former Toya Phelps and the couple has a son: Tyvari (7).
Comments from USC coach Steve Spurrier on completing his staff: “We’re very pleased with the group of coaches we have assembled. They are all coaches who really want to be at South Carolina and work to make the Gamecock program successful. This will be a staff that works together well and gets along well. We very much are looking forward to finishing up a strong recruiting class, beginning our winter conditioning program in January, and then moving into spring practice in March.”
USC Defensive Note: All four members of the USC defensive coaching staff (John Thompson, Tyrone Nix, Ron Cooper and Dave Wommack) have been defensive coordinators at one time or another during their coaching careers. Additionally, Cooper has nine years of head coaching experience to his credit, while Thompson has two years of head coaching experience.