PHENIX CITY, Ala. — Pat Nix is a steak and potatoes kind of guy.
“Just give me a good steak and potato and I’m good,” he remarks with a smile.
This is why one of his favorite places to eat while he attended Auburn University was Good Ol’ Boys Family Restaurant — the other one being Niffer’s.
It's been 25 years since Patrick Nix was a student at Auburn University, devouring steak and potatoes to fuel his duties as a quarterback for the Tigers. Now, he sits at a desk in his new office at Central High School in Phenix City. He’s been on the job for two weeks, and already he has spreadsheets full of information, recruiting packages and more strewn across his table and hanging on white boards around the room.
This head coaching job is just the latest step on a journey that has taken him across the southeastern United States, the last eight years of which have been spent coaching at high schools across the state of Alabama.
A man of faith, family and football, Nix knows that this journey is one in which he has the chance to make an impact on and off the field, just as former coaches had on him during his tenure at Auburn.
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Nix’s time at Auburn occurred under some of the more prolific coaches to work on the Plains, including head coaches Pat Dye and Terry Bowden, offensive coordinator Tommy Bowden and quarterbacks coach Jimbo Fisher, among others.
The lessons he learned from them, he said, have influenced not only his coaching style, but his entire life.
“You know, I think from all of them, I learned different things that still, to this day, you carry with you, cause they helped to shape and mold you," Nix said in an interview with The Plainsman. "You know, I just learned bits and pieces from all those guys that coached me, and how to handle different situations and all that, so very fortunate with all the guys I was around when I was at Auburn.”
After graduating in 1995, Nix was hired as an assistant for the Jacksonville State University Gamecocks from 1996-98. He was then hired in 1999 as the head coach for the Henderson State University Reddies, where he compiled a total record of 3-19 over two seasons.
From there, he was hired in various offensive capacities at different universities across the Southeast, including jobs as the offensive coordinator of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Miami Hurricanes.
Nix’s experiences at each university were invaluable to him, as “each place has had a little something different, so I think each place has been equally rewarding.”
After his final season as the wide receivers coach at Charleston Southern in 2012, he transitioned to high school coaching, beginning with his tenure at Scottsboro High School.
When Nix arrived at Scottsboro, the football team was coming off a 4-36 stretch over four seasons.
In Nix’s first season with the Wildcats, he led them to a playoff berth. In his fourth and final season, he led the team to a 12-1 record and advanced to the Class 5A quarterfinals.
He then went from there to Pinson Valley, where the Indians went 38-4 over three seasons under Nix, with back-to-back Class 6A state championships in 2017 and 2018 and a trip to the semi-finals in 2019.
On Jan. 14, 2020, the Phenix City Board of Education announced that Nix had been hired as the new head coach for Central High School, filling the vacancy left by the retirement of former head coach Jamie DuBose.
In high school athletics, Nix is passionate about developing young players, noting that he enjoys “watching them grow, watching them get better, having the opportunity to try to shape them just a little bit and change their environment a bit and their culture, and watching them succeed and having a chance to succeed.”
He also understands the importance of developing not just the player, but the person under the helmet.
“I think that that’s something that may be one of the more valuable things of sports, is that it gives somebody the chance to use talents that God’s given them in a different way," Nix said. "I’ve seen a lot of them that, no, they weren’t the smartest in the world but they went and got a college degree and have a lot of success now because of the work ethic they learned through a sport, and the teamwork through a sport, and all those things they learned that enabled them to be able to have success in life.”
Nix achieves his own success through his faith.
Nix is a devout Christian, and as with every area of his life, he allows this to influence his coaching methods.
“I tell people a lot I’m Christian first, coach second," Nix said. "That’s just the way I was raised, the way I am, the way God has made me, thank goodness. My pursuit is a passionate pursuit for Christ every day, and because of that, whatever my job would be, whether that’s as a coach or whatever, that’s going to impact and influence how I do my job.”
Nix says he uses Luke 2:52 as his guide on how to develop strong young men mentally, physically and spiritually.
“Jesus grew in wisdom, he grew academically, so I think it’s very important for us as humans… our whole life, to continue to grow in wisdom and in knowledge," Nix said. "And try to gain knowledge and try to understand things and continue to gain mentally.
"And then Jesus grew ‘in stature’ ... and ‘in favor of man’ ... and in favor with God. ... If we’re growing in those four areas, then we’re developing a person that can go out and really function in society and do the things that they’re supposed to be doing, and a person that, I think, all of us will be proud of in 20 and 30 years when they’re out there in the world.”
In this way, Nix hopes he can use football to leave a lasting impact on not just the players and the school, but the community. This especially rings true in a location like Phenix City, where every Friday evening in the fall is a time for the community to unite and rally together at Garrett-Harrison Stadium to support the young men on the field.
“Obviously, the kids are the community," Nix said. "You know, their parents are the community right now, the workers and all that, but the kids are going to be the ones coming up to be that… When you’re impacting the kids in a community, you’re impacting that community.”
Nix is obviously excited to be so close to his son, Auburn starting quarterback Bo Nix, but he's also optimistic about the future at his new job.
The Class 7A Central High School Red Devils are no strangers to postseason appearances, making playoff runs for the past six years. They won the 2018 Class 7A championship game against the Thompson High School Warriors from Alabaster, and reached the 2019 championship game where they lost in a rematch with the Warriors.
Former players include current Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross, current LSU backup quarterback Peter Parrish and former Auburn backup quarterback Jonathan Wallace.
Nix acknowledges the talent of years past, adding that “we have the chance to be one of the best in the country with the resources here.”
Nix doesn’t just plan on settling for more state championships either; he wants to be the best high school football team in the country.
"To be the best we can absolutely be, and I think that means to be truly the best," Nix said of his goals with Phenix City. "It’s not just to be the best in this area, or the state necessarily, it’s to go another step and to truly be the best in the country.”
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