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Released August 26, 2003

By John Dilmore

HATTIESBURG - Living up to the tradition of strong defensive play that has long been a trademark of Southern Miss football is not something defensive coordinator and former Golden Eagle standout Tyron Nix shrinks from.

"There's a lot of responsibility, but I accept the challenge," Nix said. "We're going to take it one day at a time, and hopefully we'll reach the heights that we're capable of reaching."

That statement is music to the ears of Southern Miss football fans, as is Nix's harkening back to the nickname that has characterized some of the great Golden Eagle defenses.

"One thing that we're going to try to do defensively is we're going to continue the 'Nasty Bunch,'" Nix said, "and live up to the expectations that Southern Miss defense has carried on throughout the years.

"We're not where we're starting traditions. The foundation has been laid, and we're trying to add to it."

Nix, a former Golden Eagle team captain, is high on this year's defense, which he says has a chance to be among the best the team has fielded in recent memory.

"We're very excited, very optimistic about our senior class, and the leadership that we've been receiving from this group of seniors," Nix said. "We feel like they have some of the qualities that it's going to take for us to be a championship caliber defense. We feel that if we stay injury-free, we have a chance to be one of the better units we've put on the field in the past several years."

The Southern Miss defense has been ranked among the best in the nation in recent years, so excellence on the field will be nothing new for Nix's squad. But the coach will have at least one new situation to deal with this season, and it's a pleasant one - his brother, Derrick, will be on the sidelines as a member of the Golden Eagle Coaching staff.

Derrick Nix - one of the most productive running backs in Southern Miss history - saw his playing career end this past off season when he underwent a life-saving kidney transplant.

"It's going to be great him being there with us on the sidelines," Tyron Nix said. "I think we will be better."

Though he'll be happy to have Derrick on the sidelines, Nix said he will miss the impact his brother had on the field - taking pressure off the defense by leading sustained drives on the other side of the ball.

"It's probably going to be a little harder, because I relied on him a little bit when he was on the field to make a play for us," he said.

Asked what the best things about coaching at Southern Miss have been for him, Nix points first to his boss, Head Coach Jeff Bower.

"Coach Bower has been an inspiration to me," Nix said. "He's helped me grow, and taught me a lot of different things about the sport."

Nix, who has had offers to coach at other universities but turned them down, also said the community had a lot to do with his dedication to Southern Miss. "That's one of the biggest reasons it's hard to leave, because there is so much love and caring from the people surrounding the university."

Nix and his wife, Toya, have one son, Tyvari, who is already looking ahead to being a Golden Eagle someday. Tyvari's favorite number is 43 - the same number his uncle Derrick wore for Southern Miss.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM