To become the starting quarterback at a school like Auburn or Oregon, with a rich history of football tradition and success, it takes talent. Well, not just any kind of talent.
In order to lead the Tigers out of the locker room at Jordan-Hare or to be at the front of the charge when the Ducks take the field at Autzen Stadium, you have to be an elite quarterback, one of the best in the nation, with a proven track record of handling pressure and rising to the occasion.
Cam Newton, Justin Herbert, Jason Campbell, Dan Fouts, Nick Marshall, Joey Harrington, Dameyune Craig and Marcus Mariota have all etched their names into the history books of their respective schools with big wins in big games and stepping up against tough competition.
So how did Bo Nix become a starter at both schools, yet be seemingly unable to show up against stiff competition?
Do You Know Bo (Nix)?
Bo Nix was born with the college football equivalent of silver spoon in his mouth. The son of former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix, Bo grew up in and around some major college football programs. With his genetic pedigree and attaining access inside of Georgia Tech and Miami, thanks to his dad serving as a coach, Bo had an inside track to become a superstar. And that's exactly what happened.
Playing high school ball for Pinson Valley High School, Nix put up video game numbers. In his four years suiting up for Pinson Valley, Nix recorded over 12,000 offensive yards and 161 touchdowns. In his senior season, Nix would go on to win Alabama's Mr. Football Award, an honor given to the state's best high school football player.
Bo Nix's coach must have been ecstatic, right? You're absolutely correct. Patrick Nix, Bo's father, also served as head coach of Pinson Valley High. Imagine having to go up against a former Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator as a high schooler. That's insane.
Needless to say, Bo had some offers on the table, but only one school caught his eye: Auburn.
The Other Bo at Auburn
Carrying the weight of two record-breaking Auburn namesakes is tough as a kid growing up in Alabama, but to step up and say you want to start for Auburn? That's another story all together, but that's exactly what Bo did. The No. 29 prospect in the county took his talents to Auburn, where he instantly became the Tigers' starting quarterback.
In his first season under center, Nix led the Tigers to a 9-4 record, good enough for third in the SEC West and a No. 14 ranking in the final AP poll. Not too shabby right? Sort of. A closer look at that 9-4 record will reveal Bo Nix's Kryptonite.
Bo Nix Can't Beat Ranked Teams
Let's play a game of Player A and Player B. Two players, and all you can see are their records as the starting quarterback of a prominent football school.
Player A: 15-2 record.
Player B: 6-14 record.
Who do you start? Gotta be Player A, right? Even if he doesn't have an arm and has a wooden leg, he's obviously doing something right.
Player A is Bo nix against unranked teams. There's no better quarterback at beating up on a lower weight class than Bo Nix. Player B? That's Bo Nix against ranked teams, which, as Auburn's signal caller, he saw almost every week. In 2021, Nix led the Tigers to a 6-7 record, Auburn's worst since Gene Chizik left the Plains. Of that 6-7 record, Nix and the Tigers were 2-5 against ranked teams, losing to Penn State, Texas A&M, Georgia, Houston and Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Of their non-ranked competition, Auburn beat up on Akron, Georgia State, Alabama State and LSU, while dropping games to Mississippi State and South Carolina.
After three years, it became clear. Bo Nix needed to get away from ranked competition, but where can he go and still retain his draft stock? The ACC? The ACC had four ranked teams and the only open QB spot would be in Pittsburgh, where he'd have to fill Kenny Pickett's big shoes? That's not ideal. The Big Ten is out, and even the Big 12 has its pit falls. Which leaves only one option.
Bo Ducks Out to Oregon
Puns aside, the move to Oregon makes total sense. It's great program with a track record of delivering star quarterbacks to the NFL, and most importantly, it was one of only two ranked teams in the Pac-12 along with upstart Utah. If Bo was going to shine in his final year of college football, it was going to be where ranked teams couldn't hurt him: in the hills of Eugene, Oregon.
And then Oregon pulls reigning national champion Georgia as their Week 1 opponent in the Chik-fil-a Kickoff game in Atlanta, the Bulldogs' backyard.
In one of the worst opening week demolitions, Kirby Smart and the Dawgs reminded Bo Nix that just because you leave the SEC doesn't mean the SEC forgets about you. After all was said and done, Georgia obilterated the Ducks, 49-3. Nix threw for 173 yards and led the team in rushing yards with 37 and interceptions with two. A rough start to the beginning of the Bo Nix era in Eugene. Even worse? The Ducks opened the season as the No. 11 team in the country, but int he first AP Poll, Oregon fell further than any other team, dropping out of the Top 25 altogether.
Ranked teams continue to own Bo Nix, like a house on a million-year lease.
Does Bo Know the Solution?
At this point, Nix and the Ducks have to be in scramble mode. This isn't Brian Kelly and LSU losing to unranked Florida State, this is far worse. This is get a hold of your program before you get lapped by Arizona State. Sure, the Ducks will bounce back with a win over unranked Eastern Washington and things will seem to have been fixed, but what happens when BYU or Stanford comes to town? The Ducks with Nix under center are a coin flip.
Last year, the questions surrounding Nix were in regards to his inability to win on the road for Auburn. This year, it could be more of the same, against lesser competition. And that's maybe the biggest problem for Bo Nix.
As a young player coming up with his dad as his high school head coach, starting at his dad's alma mater from Day 1 and then following his one of his old coaches to Oregon, Bo Nix has always had people around him helping him acheive greatness, yet when the going gets tough, Bo Nix is unable to answer the bell.
In an interview on "The Bill Simmons Podcast," Ben Affleck spoke about Tom Brady and the one quality that sets him apart from every other human being. "He doesn't have that part of the brain that gets nervous," Affleck told Simmons. "[Brady] doesn't get tight, and getting tight ruins it. That's why guys drop the ball on the clutch play, you know what I mean? And we've all seen it. There are famous instances. Plays they make 10,000 times, the ground ball right to your hands, all these moments, it's like 'why didn't I do that? I've been doing this since childhood?.. It's that panicked uncertainty that comes when everything's on the line."
Bo Nix gets tight in big games. When it's Bo Nix with the ball in his hands against a ranked team, he's living in that panicked uncertainty, and until he learns to defeat that demon, Bo Nix will be another quarterback who couldn't live up to his potential as a star.
So, with twelve more games left in his college football career, it's possible that this is Bo Nix's final form.
Unless, the real Bo Nix finally stands up and becomes the quarterback he is on paper.