Roughly a week after Auburn quarterback Bo Nix announced his intention to enter the NCAA Transfer Portal, Nix found a new home in Oregon, a move that first-year head coach Dan Lanning thinks can set the standard under center in Eugene.
On Monday night, Lanning — formerly the defensive coordinator at Georgia — was wearing black and red, leading the Bulldogs to a national championship. But by Thursday, Lanning, now wearing green, had arrived at his new post in Eugene, ready to explain why the Ducks believe they’ve found their quarterback of the future in Nix.
“Competition breeds excellence,” Lanning said. “We’re going to have competition at every position across the board, quarterback included. What I think I know about Bo is that he’s the ultimate competitor; I know how hard he worked.”
Lanning alluded to the fact that Nix will have to earn the starting quarterback at Oregon, though it seems like a foregone conclusion that the three-year Auburn starter will win that job quickly. Nix’s three-year run as Auburn’s starting quarterback had its ups and downs, but his best season, which came in 2019, was in large part thanks to then-Auburn offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham. Dillingham was recently hired as Oregon’s offensive coordinator, so as Nix exhausts his last year of collegiate eligibility in Oregon, he’ll have the chance to reunite with Dillingham — a duo that Lanning thinks will catalyze the Ducks’ offense.
“Obviously, Coach Dillingham had personal experience getting to coach Bo in the past. We were really clear with Bo, (saying) when you come here, there’s certainly an opportunity to compete, but we’re really excited about the guy we have on our roster as well.”
The Nix name will forever hold a place in Auburn lore, despite his decision to transfer, as Nix was a second-generation Auburn quarterback. His father, Patrick Nix, quarterbacked the Tigers in the early 1990s. The younger Nix had plenty of ups and downs in his three years with the Tigers, which featured two head coaches in Gus Malzahn and Bryan Harsin.
He finished with 7,251 passing yards (five spots above his father on Auburn’s career passing list), 39 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in three years as the starting quarterback, but Nix was forced to sit out for the annual Iron Bowl after suffering a broken ankle against Mississippi State. He’ll have a new start at Oregon, and Nix can only hope he returns to his 2019 form under Dillingham.
“Excited to see the guys come in and compete and work,” Lanning said. “That, for me is exciting. What am I looking for (in a quarterback)? Leadership. Work ethic. You don’t get to just be the quarterback on the field. That has to leave the field, it has to be exuded in the classroom, on campus, the way you operate day in and day out, and I think we’ve got a group of guys that do that.”
As a true freshman, Nix burst onto the scene in 2019, throwing for over 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns, both of which were Auburn freshman records. He was named SEC Freshman of the Year, and the Tigers went 9-3 in the regular season, only to lose in the Outback Bowl. His next two years, though, Auburn went 6-5 and 6-6 in Malzahn’s last year and Harsin’s first year. Next season, Nix will have one last chance to replicate that 2019 campaign at Oregon.