Eye on the Y: Kalani Sitake’s right hand man waves goodbye

Plus The Tribune’s weekly roundup of news and notes from around the Big 12 conference.

You might not know Billy Nixon, but he’s been an instrumental part of BYU football for the last seven years.

As Kalani Sitake’s director of football operations, Nixon was in charge of player experience, on the NIL committee with the athletic department and was instrumental in upgrading the uniform.

Nixon announced recently that he is leaving the Cougars for a job at Built. I caught up with him a couple of days ago to talk and the story of how he became a BYU fan jumped out at me.

He knows it might sounds odd, Nixon wasn’t really aware of BYU football growing up.

The man who would later become one of the more influential figures within the program for last half-decade had heard of BYU of course. But he lived near Washington D.C. as a kid, and the games were never on television.

But that changed in Jan. 2005 when Nixon unexpectedly drove BYU legend, and then-Philadelphia Eagles tight end, Chad Lewis to the hospital after he broke his leg in the NFC Championship game. It made Nixon into a BYU fan and set him on the path toward one of the more important jobs within the program.

“That’s kind of how my journey got started,” Nixon said. “I wouldn’t have been at BYU without Chad Lewis. It’s crazy.”

Nixon was 12 years old at the time. A youth leader in Nixon’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward happened to be best friends with Lewis. And that Sunday in 2005, Lewis’ Eagles were playing the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game. Lewis caught two touchdowns, but went down with a Lisfranc injury on his second score.

When the team flew back to Philadelphia, it was determined that Lewis needed surgery that Wednesday. The surgery would take place in Baltimore. So, Lewis called Nixon’s Young Men’s president to see if he could give him a ride from Philly to Baltimore. The president said he was busy that day, but called Nixon’s father to see if he could fill in.

Without hesitation, Nixon’s father agreed. He took a young Billy Nixon with him. On the ride, they stopped at a Cheesecake Factory and Lewis gave Nixon a pair of signed gloves. The two stayed in contact.

Years later, Lewis helped Nixon get a job on the BYU football staff as an undergrad in Provo. Nixon would put Lewis’ gloves in his office. And from there, one of the more impactful people got his start at BYU.

Quick Hits

Deion Smith had a front-row seat to the Deion Sanders show at Colorado. Now the running back is on his way to BYU, looking for something different.

Kody Epps was promised tens of thousands of dollars a month if he transferred, sources said. What happened with one of BYU’s top receivers?

Around the Big 12

Baylor — Locked in its 2024 QB.

UCF — Is eyeing a local product to become the face of its 2024 recruiting class.

Cincinnati — Former AD Mike Bohn just resigned at USC.

Houston — Just approved a revised $140 million budget for the football operations building.

Iowa State — A deep dive with Matt Campbell.

Kansas — The KU tight end who never planned to be a football player.

Kansas State — How do you replace all-conference running back Deuce Vaughn?

Oklahoma — Oregon beat the Sooners on the recruiting trail again.

Oklahoma State — Made the cut for local product Isaac Wilson. We spent a couple of days with Zach Wilson’s brother this October.

TCU — Sonny Dykes isn’t biting on Jimbo Fisher’s barb about the Horned Frogs. Fisher downplayed the success TCU had to make a run to the national championship.

Texas — Is Brooks ready to become the lead back this year?

Texas Tech — A much improved Red Raider team? Tech has the schedule to do it.

West Virginia — The wide receiver room is wide open for somebody to take it.