Four years ago, Jeff Nye enjoyed his finest hour in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.

Four years ago, Jeff Nye enjoyed his finest hour in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.

The assistant football coach had taken control of a Sulphur team that was ranked No. 1 the entire season after head coach Jim Dixon took a leave with a bout of encephalitis. Under his 14-week guidance, the Bulldogs marched to their second state championship in three years, beating Purcell 48-12 in the state Class 2A final and finishing 15-0.

Nye, the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator, was killed Monday evening in a vehicle-train collision 1 mile south of Roff on Pontotoc County Road 1660, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. He was 46.

Nye was ejected from his vehicle, and seat belts were not in use, the OHP report said.

“I’ve talked to a few football players; the community is real shocked right now,” fellow assistant coach and Sulphur athletic director Clete Cole said Tuesday afternoon. “It just really hasn’t set in. Things are moving fast, and it’s just more of a state of shock than anything.”

Senior quarterback Zac Swartz seemed to feel that way in an interview with The Associated Press.

“It’s a shock, doesn’t seem real,” he told the AP. “He was one of my favorite coaches.”
Sulphur Public Schools Superintendent Paula Crawford wrote in a statement Tuesday that Nye will be remembered for his friendship, laughter, and the life lessons he taught.

“Coach Nye was a gifted coach and science teacher who treated his students and co-workers according to the traits by which he lived his life … with respect, caring, compassion, honesty and hard work,” she wrote.

According to OHP, Nye failed to yield to an oncoming train. The conductor of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Train, Michael Robert Bagley, 51, of Durant, was not injured, nor was train engineer Standle Anderson, 54, of Ada.

A passenger in Nye’s 2005 Jeep, H.C. Rackley, 45, of Sulphur, was transported by EMS to Valley View Hospital in Ada and listed in stable condition as of Monday night, according to OHP. No other cause for the collision has been determined.

“It’s one thing when somebody dies and you know it’s coming,” Cole said. “But when it happens so fast, it makes it that much harder on those who’ve been affected.

“When you’re in the coaching profession, you’re going to affect a lot of kids one way or another.”
Nye had affected many in his 16½ years at Sulphur — Cole said he was a junior when Nye joined the staff for the 1992 season — and his leadership in 2004 left a great effect on a storied program. The Bulldogs were runners-up in 2003.

“He did a wonderful job,” Cole said. “It was a very tough year because everyone of us played for coach Dixon. There were reports he may not be back ever.”
But Dixon recovered and is still at the helm.

“He’s just done a tremendous job all the way through,” Dixon said Tuesday of Nye. “I was real proud of him. I had all the confidence in him. He was just a dandy.”

Dixon said Nye, who played for him at Sulphur, was recovering from a kidney ailment that forced him to miss only one game this past season.  The head coach added that a malignant kidney was taken out of Nye about five to six years ago.

“He was a real blessing,” Dixon said.

The news of Nye’s death also hit the rival town of Davis hard, Davis head coach Jody Weber said Tuesday.

“He was a good friend of mine, on and off the field,” he said. “We had the rivalry, but we always met for a film exchange.”

Nye’s Bulldogs offense scored 32.8 points per game and had an average win margin of 29.1 points in an 11-2 season that included the District 2A-4 championship and a state Class 2A quarterfinal appearance. Three of his standouts, running back Tony Colungo, wide receiver Whitt Carter and Swartz made the All-Ardmoreite Super Team.

Dixon said he wasn’t sure how the team would honor Nye in the following months, as he hadn’t had a chance to talk with his staff about it.

Visitation with family and friends is from 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Krien Funeral Home in Sulphur. A funeral service is set for 2 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church in Sulphur.

A scholarship fund has been set up for Nye’s children at the Community Bank of the Arbuckles. Donations may be made to Nye Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 61, Sulphur, OK 73086.

I.C. Murrell,
(580) 221-6527