Mac Engel

This one’s for Scott Nix: TCU needs to raise its profile

TCU took a low-key approach to promoting quarterback Trevone Boykin for the Heisman Trophy. He finished 10th.
TCU took a low-key approach to promoting quarterback Trevone Boykin for the Heisman Trophy. He finished 10th. Star-Telegram

At 6:19 p.m. Wednesday, Scott Nix called to bounce an idea off me, and to ask a favor. Fewer than eight hours later, Scott Nix died of a heart attack.

For those fortunate enough to know the former TCU offensive lineman and the man who ran the wildly popular website KillerFrogs.com with his best friend Wes Phelan, this loss absolutely stinks. Scott was one of the great ones. He was a man who, no matter how bad your mood, had the ability to turn it around when you were in his presence.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, “Scott’s Final Letterman’s Tailgate” will be held at the Athletic Performance Ranch between Benbrook and Aledo. This will not be a conventional memorial but rather something Scott would have loved; it will be a tailgate complete with barbecue, and those that plan to attend are encouraged to wear what Scott would have worn while taking a shower, attending a wedding or working in the yard — purple.

He loved life, God, family, friends and TCU. No one could have loved his school more than Scott.

I told him I would do this, so Scott, this is for you: The next time TCU has a player good enough to make a run at the Heisman Trophy, treat him like he is LaDainian Tomlinson, and take nothing for granted. TCU is in the Big 12 and can play with the biggest, but it can’t stop selling or hustling.

The only mistake TCU made this season was its laissez-faire approach to promoting quarterback Trevone Boykin for the Heisman Trophy. The athletic department decided promoting Boykin would take care of itself.

Boykin was not one of the three finalists for the award, and thus not invited to NYC for the ceremony. Alabama running back Derrick Henry deservedly won.

This do-nothing approach to promoting a player for a major award works when you are Alabama, Ohio State, USC or another school that ESPN worships. It clearly flopped for TCU.

Boykin finished 10th with a total of 13 votes. That is indefensible.

By the time TCU began to promote Boykin, it was late in the season, and it was too late to make a dent. This is a flawed system, and even though TCU is in the Big 12, it still must remind people of its achievements 24/7.

In 2000, when LT was in his senior season at TCU, the school campaigned from beginning to end and spent hundreds of thousands in the process. The goal was to get LT to New York, which was accomplished, and in turn the school received the type of PR it wanted to sell the school.

I asked TCU head coach Gary Patterson on Friday if he would have handled the promotion of Boykin any differently. He said no; that he always felt Boykin was going to have to play his way into the Heisman discussion.

Boykin did, only nobody outside the Big 12 knew it. Even before his four-interception stinker in the loss at T. Boone State and then the ankle injury that knocked him out of the game against Kansas, Boykin was never seriously considered as a potential winner when he should have been.

Would Boykin have won the award, or been invited to NYC, with a lavish, season-long campaign? Because only three candidates are invited now, it’s doubtful.

Would Boykin have had a better chance with a season-long campaign? Absolutely.

Patterson had said late in the season that the school should do everything possible to help a kid who had given so much to TCU. He meant it; he was just too late.

Promoting a player for the Heisman Trophy is an enormous and tireless pain. It requires six-figure spending, and saying yes to endless interview requests. It also goes against what so many of today’s coaches loathe - giving more access to their players.

The college game is “about these kids” but routinely the face is always the micromanaging head coach.

One of the lessons learned from the non-existent Boykin Heisman campaign is that TCU still has an identity problem. TCU is ranked ahead of Michigan, Georgia and Nebraska, but is often not treated as college football royalty.

If anyone understood the daily perception struggle TCU fights every year, it would be Nix. In the five seasons Nix played/attended TCU from 1978 to 1982, the Frogs won 10 games. From 1956 to 1999, TCU never had a season with nine wins.

No one enjoyed the current era of TCU athletics more than Scott, and he wanted the best for his alma mater. He knew that despite TCU’s success and legitimacy, people outside of the flyover states needed to be reminded daily.

The next time TCU is lucky enough to have a Heisman candidate, he should be promoted like LT and not the Boy King.

And rest easy, Scott Nix. You will always be missed, never forgotten and forever loved.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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