Photo courtesy of Auburn athletics
The date was Aug. 31, 2019.
Just a few weeks after Bo Nix was named the first freshman to start the season for Auburn since the 1940s, the Tigers marched into Arlington to take on Oregon. Auburn and Nix heard it all week: There was no way the freshman Nix could out-duel Justin Herbert, especially in his first game.
For the first half, that looked to be the case. The Ducks jumped all over Auburn, leading 21-6 with all the momentum. A few balls bounced Auburn’s way and all of a sudden, it was a 21-20 game with 2:13 left in the game. With just one timeout and the ball on its own 40-yard-line, Auburn needed its quarterback to step up and make a play.
Up to this point, Nix did not look the part of a 5-star prospect. He had turned the ball over twice and was completing well under 50% of his passes. Still, he didn’t let the outside noise bother him.
A Nix scramble on 4th-and-3 kept hope alive for Auburn. In that moment, Nix showed the toughness that he would showcase multiple times over the next three years at Auburn. That scramble gave Auburn a chance to win.
And it did.
With 16 seconds left, Nix took a shot to the end zone and found Seth Williams for a touchdown. The Tigers took the lead 27-21 and eventually won by that score.
“The legend of this legacy quarterback at Auburn is born in his college debut”.
Those were the words uttered from ESPN’s Reece Davis’s mouth following that game-winning toss.
Everyone bought in.
Auburn had found its quarterback.
That Was Then; This is Now
Fast forward to Dec. 12 2021. The boy who grew up dreaming of being Auburn’s quarterback entered the transfer portal.
What transpired following that Oregon game shaped this decision. Nix made mistakes as a freshman, and suffered a sophomore slump.
Headed into his junior season, Nix was known more for being a joke than his actual quarterback play. Despite leading Auburn to a win over Alabama as a freshman, the expectations were as low as they could get for Nix.
Then came Georgia State, Auburn’s fourth opponent of the 2021 season. For three and a half quarters, Nix still looked like the frazzled freshman from 2019. Nix was eventually benched for TJ Finley, which sparked an Auburn comeback win.
All thought that was it for Nix…until the next week.
Auburn matched into LSU, where it had not won since 1999. What happened next would spark the best stretch of Nix’s career.
Against LSU, Nix finally made the jump that everyone was waiting for. Nix scrambled around and kept plays alive. At times, he made plays reminiscent of Johnny Manziel.
Over the next few games, Nix would continue to make those crazy eye-popping plays. More importantly, he was consistently making the plays that he should make, and looked as comfortable as ever.
Then came a home date with Mississippi State on Nov. 13.
Nix’s Fall After the Rise
Auburn took a 28-3 lead on the Bulldogs. Then, the wheels came off. Mississippi State would go on a 40-0 run, sparking one of the biggest comeback wins in program history.
As for Nix? Well, he actually threw for almost 400 yards.
The biggest news however was Nix breaking his ankle — more specifically, the junior signal caller playing on a broken ankle in the fourth quarter,
Little did people know that would be Nix’s final game as the Auburn quarterback. It could not have been a more fitting ending.
A Legacy Unfulfilled and Negativity Undeserved
Nix played for three different play-callers in his three years at Auburn. He also spent a majority of his time on the plains running from defenders who broke through a lackluster offensive line, and throwing to wide receivers who couldn’t create space or catch the ball consistently.
Still, somehow, Nix took all the blame. Check any Auburn message board and or social media thread and you will find those comments — comments about how Nix was not a team player or how he was detrimental to the team. Some would get much more personal than that.
Through it all, Nix kept fighting and never said anything bad about Auburn. People would nitpick at the comments he would make, but that was to just push an agenda based on false narratives.
All of a sudden, his dream has come to an end. The kid who grew up watching his dad Patrick Nix’s Auburn highlights and dreaming of following in his footsteps felt like it was time to leave.
It’s hard to recall a quarterback who received more undeserved hate than Nix. He had his moments of both good and bad, but with one more season, Nix would have been the all-time leading passer in Auburn history.
Negative attention and mean comments are one thing. Targeted harassment and borderline abuse are another.
For Auburn, what happens next remains unseen. For now, many fans have gotten their wish.
Nix fought for Auburn with everything he had. Unfortunately, the fans and the community refused to rally around him.
For Nix, that is a sad realization.