Jan. 25, 2002
ATLANTA– – Rick Smith, who has five years of experience as a defensive coordinator at Kentucky, Tulane and Cincinnati, has been named Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, while Patrick Nix, formerly the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Samford, has joined the Tech staff as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, Rambling Wreck head coach Chan Gailey announced Friday.
The hiring of Smith and Nix brings Gailey’s staff to eight, joining offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, wide receivers coach Tommie Robinson, running backs coach Curtis Modkins, offensive line coach Joe D’Allesandris, defensive assistant Glenn Spencer and David Wilson, who will become Tech’s Director of Football Operations when the recruiting season is finished.
A 32-year coaching veteran, Smith returns to Georgia Tech after stints as the Yellow Jackets’ defensive backs coach from 1982-85 and as junior varsity head coach in 1977.
“Rick is a proven defensive coordinator whose trademark has been building aggressive defenses that create a lot of turnovers and swarm to the ball,” said Gailey. “He has worked at Georgia Tech before, and he’ll be an excellent addition to this staff.”
Smith comes back to Atlanta after serving as Kentucky’s assistant head coach, defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator in 2001. He previously spent seven years (1990-96) as the Wildcats’ defensive backs coach, adding the duties of defensive coordinator in 1996. He then moved to Tulane, where he served as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach in 1997-98. He helped the Green Wave win 19 games in his two seasons there, including a perfect 12-0 mark and a No. 7 national ranking in 1998. In his first year at Tulane, his defensive unit led the nation with 26 interceptions.
Smith then spent two years as defensive coordinator at Cincinnati, where his 2000 defense ranked fourth in the nation by generating 34 turnovers to help the Bearcats to a 7-4 record and a berth in the Motor City Bowl.
During his career, Smith has seen 24 of his defensive backs drafted into the National Football League, including 20 who have played three or more years in the NFL.
A native of Tallahassee, Fla., Smith began his coaching career as an assistant at Godby High School in Tallahassee for three years (1970-72) and then moved to Wakulla (Fla.) High as head coach and director of athletics for four years (1973-76). After one year as Tech’s junior varsity coach, he spent one year as defensive backs coach at East Tennessee State and three seasons as head coach at Marianna (Fla.) High School before returning to Tech as defensive backs coach from 1982-85. He also worked as defensive backs coach at Alabama (1986) and Baylor (1987-89).
Smith and his wife Barbara have one daughter, Beth, and two sons, Steve and Billy.
Prior to his one season at Samford, Nix was the head coach at Henderson State University, an NCAA Division II school in Arkadelphia, Ark., for two years (1999-2000). Under Nix, the HSU offense set 18 school records, four Gulf South Conference records and three national records.
“Patrick is a former quarterback who is a very bright young coach,” said Gailey. “He has varied experience even at a young age, and he’ll bring a lot of enthusiasm and energy to our program.”
Nix began his coaching career with a three-year stint at Jacksonville State University, serving as running backs coach in 1996 and as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator in 1998. He helped the Gamecocks experience the biggest turnaround in Division I-AA, improving from 1-10 in 1997 to 7-4 in 1998.
A native of Attalla, Ala., Nix was a standout quarterback at Auburn University, where as a sophomore he was part of the Tigers’ 1993 squad that posted a perfect 11-0 record. In 1995, as captain and starting quarterback, he led Auburn to an 8-4 record and received the team’s Pat Sullivan Award for Offensive Player of the Year as well as the Cliff Hare Award as the school’s Student-Athlete of the Year. He finished his playing days as the Tigers’ career passing efficiency leader and ranked among the top five in school history in numerous other statistical categories.
Nix, who earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Auburn in 1995, is married to the former Krista Chapman, and the couple has a daughter, Emma, 3, and a son, Bo, 1.