One of the by-products of a successful season like Ole Miss had in 2008 is the job market for assistant coaches.
Most of the coaches on Houston Nutt’s staff have been around the block and had created solid reputations in the business before last season. Throw in last year’s turnaround and the fact that they’ve worked under an experienced head coach, and the stock grows. It will grow even more if the Rebels achieve at the level many predict for them this season.
There’s been talk about the future for offensive coordinator Kent Austin, who has already won a championship as a head coach in the CFL. Some around the Ole Miss program would like to see Austin named as a “coach in waiting” for Ole Miss once Nutt retires or leaves.
Another name to watch is Tyrone Nix. The Rebels’ defensive coordinator enjoyed a bit of career comeback last season. When Nutt hired Nix away from South Carolina it was unclear if Nix was going to be retained by Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier. Nix has answered the question by saying, “You’ll have to ask Spurrier that.”
Last year Nix led a defensive turnaround that saw the Rebels rise from 12th in the SEC in total defense, 11th in scoring defense, to fifth in both categories. Ole Miss was playing particularly well at the end of the season, four times holding opponents to 13 points our fewer – twice with shutouts – over the six-game win streak.
Other schools called to guage Nix’ interest in leaving. He’s not saying what the schools or positions were.
“It’s irrelevant at this point,” he said.
Nix has the intensity and leadership skills to be a head coach. If hiring a black coach is important to some school, he has that too.
If the Rebels’ defensive line – which helped Ole Miss rank second in the SEC and fourth in the nation in run defense – is better than last year, as Nix predicts, the defense has a chance to post even more impressive numbers in 2009.
That would create even more buzz around Nix next December when the coaching carousel begins to spin.
For now, Nix won’t even say if he aspires to become a head coach.
“Right now my emphasis is on being the best defensive coordinator and the best coach I can be on this staff. Who knows where we might be in five years? Tomorrow isn’t promised to us. I want to try and enjoy every day, every opportunity I have to enjoy the guys I work with. Our defensive staff is outstanding. Kim Dameron, Terry Price, Chris Vaughn … I enjoy them all, and coach Nutt.
“I even like our offensive guys sometimes.”
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