Tyrone Nix is an American football coach. He was born in Alabama, where football is almost a religion to a football-loving family. Nix was groomed by his legendary Alabama high school football coach to take over his program upon his graduation from college, but Nix’s success at college proved he could take his coaching skills to an even higher level of collegiate coaching.

After concluding his playing career at Southern Miss, he stuck around at his alma mater to coach on both sides of the ball, though primarily the defensive side. In 2005, he made the move to South Carolina, where he served under Hall-of-Fame coach and player Steve Spurrier, who named Nix his defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. His success with SC made him a marketable coach, and he took his skills to Ole Miss, Middle Tennessee, and Texas A&M, after which Nix was hired as an assistant coach for Virginia Tech under the tutoring of Hall of Fame Coordinator Bud Foster.

Most recently, Tyrone Nix served as the defensive coordinator at University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) which moved from 92nd to 47th in total defense in one season under his guidance. At each stop, Tyrone has not only achieved high marks for his defensive schematics and winning formulas, but he has mentored countless young men on their achievements on the field, in their spiritual lives, and in the classroom. He has made the most of every opportunity and learned from everyone he’s worked with, both sterling attributes for someone who is a leader of men, on the field and off. 

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

Seeing young boys mature into young men and seeing the happiness in their life at the end of their  journey is the ultimate accomplishment. The most inspiring is seeing the impact of your help in developing them in a way that would allow them to become more successful at a lot of things they were trying to overcome. Truly, at times there was a sense of feeling like a parent to these young men . There is an abundance of happiness when you see them graduate, acquire a lot of qualities that it takes to be successful in life and that continued progress of them being a productive young man in their communities.

How do you motivate others?

People always ask me, “How do you motivate your players?” Well, you recruit motivated people! For a good start, you surround yourself with those types of people. So much of the world is goal-driven where we all have objectives on things that we want to accomplish, and we’re trying to find out what’s the best way to get these things to a proficient level.

Speaking as a coach, one of the things that I do to keep people motivated is constantly reminding them of their own statements of what they wanted to accomplish. I help provide the inspiration and discipline to keep them focused on accomplishing their goals. My main motivation tool is reminding them of their dreams and encouraging them to work toward it. I help them to implement a plan to beat all the small obstacles that may derail them on a daily basis. I give them life lessons that give them an opportunity to be more successful in the end. It’s easy to lose sight, if you are just looking at the one major goal at hand, like winning a game. There are a lot of small things that you must overcome before you can win the big one. It helps them to understand the process, how to accomplish that goal and the things that you have to put in place to achieve it.

How has your company grown from its early days to now?

I have coached my entire life and It’s all I know. This game is steadily changing from a schematic standpoint on the field to this new generation of communication. Everything is more technology-driven and heavily into social media. There are a number of different ways of doing the job now that were not available or even thought of when I first started. The thing that stays consistent throughout every level and every year, is the honesty in the communication. Honesty is something that is a continued mainstay for me from my first year of coaching in 1995 to the most recent season of 2020. Being honest is still a requirement that is ingrained in my spirit. In order to have the type of relationship you want with players, staff and to achieve all your goals you must be honest regardless of what type of year it is.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

I can’t just limit it to a person. It is three parts for me. First, my parents gave me a God-fearing home. They laid the foundation of hard work, putting your faith and trust in the Lord alone. My parents are one of the first influences in my life, especially concerning the most important thing in my life: my spiritual background.

Second, my high school coach, Wyman Townsel, without knowing he groomed me so much for this profession and as a man. He has no idea how much I believed in him. I had a couple of college coaches, Jeff Bower and John Thompson, and these guys saw something in me that I didn’t actually see in myself at that time. They trusted me with a lot more responsibilities than I expected. Maybe they saw I was actually mature enough to handle it and I was highly appreciative of their belief in me and who I would become.

Lastly, throughout my career I worked with guys like Steve Spurrier who is one of the few people that is in the Hall of Fame as a player and as a coach. Bud Foster, who is a Hall of Fame defensive coordinator. I have been around a lot of great football minds such as Jimbo Fisher and Kevin Sumlin. They are another couple of guys I have been blessed to work with in my 28 years of coaching. Every coach that I have worked with, I have learned valuable lessons that have helped me to continue to be successful in this profession. All those guys I have named have impacted me as a coach and as a person. They taught me how to communicate with players and how I do things as a coach.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

I am not going to say it is stressful, but I would say it’s really difficult to do what we do as coaches because it does require so much time. This is depending on the head coach you’re working for and the demands they will make on your time. However, when you get an opportunity to take advantage of your free time, you need to spend it with your family. In this profession, a lot of times the spouse is almost like the mom and the dad at the same time. We, as coaches, spend so much time in the process during things such as game planning for fall or spring ball and it never stops. The way the calendar is, recruiting has become a year-round thing and developing your players is as well. Spending time with my family is something that I can’t say I have done as well as I have wanted too. However, I have made that a point of emphasis of late, especially since my son is going into coaching as well. My son finished college and is in the coaching profession like his dad. I also have a 14-year-old daughter that is a freshman in high school and will be out of the house pretty soon. Before it’s all gone, I want to cherish the moments I have with her and her mom as much as possible.

What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?

In order to be a good leader, the first thing you have to do is have a good grasp on communication. You have to make a vivid description of what your goals are and the tasks at hand that are needed to accomplish them.  Another characteristic of being a successful leader is the discipline of staying on course and keeping that up day in and day out. However, you must be a great listener. I think all great leaders are people who lead by listening to the people around them and making good use of what they hear. That means surrounding yourself with the best people. You have to make it an environment where they feel comfortable talking and sharing but ultimately you are the one to make the final decision on what you think is best. I’m grateful to have served alongside a great many leaders in college football. Being influenced by them has helped to improve my leadership skills.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?

You should be a sponge, listen twice as much as you talk, be open to new ideas and other ways of doing things but most importantly be of service. You should do whatever you can to help in whatever way it may be. Remember no job is too small or too big. Understand that whatever needs to be done, be willing to do it with the best attitude and the best mindset that is possible. You must give your best effort, every day. Coaching is like being called to preach and I believe it’s a special gift that some guys have been blessed with. The most difficult challenge is to get other people to buy into what you need them to do or want them to do.  The other challenge is convincing them to do it at the highest level of excellence. I do believe some things are more natural for others, but I can’t tell you that every coach is alike because they are not. Everybody has their own personality or how they make things happen. Some guys can reach some players, and some cannot reach them at all. The ones that can reach numerous people in this arena are the ones who have the most success.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Other than graduating from college, the ultimate accomplishment is being a father to two of the greatest children in my eyes. The fact that I am able to help them have more opportunities than I did when I was their age is something I will cherish forever and to find a wife that balances me and keeps me focused is like a rare gem. I have been blessed throughout the past 25 years to have a partner who is resilient, wise and understands the commitment that it takes to keep our family together because the divorce rate is so high in the families of coaching. This is why I am so grateful for my family and above all, my family is still the most important thing to me even after all these years of changes and adjustments.

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

I do work a lot however, I am trying to enjoy life a little bit more than usual. Basically, kicking back and spending time with family and friends. I do enjoy cooking, that is one thing that relaxes me. I enjoy getting on the grill, cooking and watching everyone’s facial expression once they taste it. I have my barbecue ribs down now and that makes me feel good. My mom looks forward to the 4th of July every year when I travel to her house to cook for the family. We all have different things to take care of to make the 4th of July memorable and mine is the meat. My family has given me that responsibility of being the chef on the grill, so I take pride in that.

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?

I hope I will be on the field coaching and following wherever the Lord leads me too. However, the greatest thing I want to accomplish is to make sure I am not only successful on the field but also in my daily walk of life. Within the next five years, I will continue to work on being the best coach that I can be. I will be more polished, more mature, much more humble, and I will be the best version of myself that I have ever been as a coach. I want to continue coaching until God says differently. I do have faith and I know the Lord has greater plans for me because he is not finished with me yet.