The Bills didn't wait until the New Year to begin restructuring their front office in what is certain to be a busy offseason for the organization in 2010. On Thursday the Bills promoted Russ Brandon to CEO and named renowned National Scout Buddy Nix as their new General Manager.
"This is someone that we needed for a long, long time," said owner Ralph Wilson. "Something that fans as well as everyone in the area and myself have wanted, and that's a GM of football. We really needed somebody that knew all the aspects of the game."
Wilson along with Brandon put together a list of candidates. That list was eventually whittled down to two candidates that were both already on Buffalo's payroll.
Nix had just re-joined the organization he spent eight years scouting for this past offseason as he was appointed National Scout for the Bills on Jan. 26. Less than a year later he'll be entrusted with overseeing the entire football operation as the organization begins to rebuild a team that has not had a winning season in six years or a playoff appearance in a decade.
"It's been kind of a whirlwind the last six or seven days," said Nix. "It's not what I had in mind when I came back in January, but the more time I've had to think about it, the more excited I've gotten about it."
Nix will have full responsibility in finding the team's next sideline leader.
"He will hire the new football coach and oversee him and the whole operation connected with football," Wilson said.
The point at which Nix ascends to this position in this franchise's history is not lost on the man that has spent the last half century in coaching and scouting.
"This is a crucial time for us," said Nix. "We've got a graet opportunity and I think it's a perfect time. Obviously it's important who we hire. We're going to set about making sure we get the right guy."
After more than 30 years as a college coach, Nix was hired by former Bills GM John Butler as an area scout with his region of focus being the southeast where he had spent the balance of his coaching career including nine as a head coach. His expertise helped to land such prospects as Eric Moulds, Sam Cowart and Peerless Price.
He then left the Bills organization joining Butler in San Diego where they built the Chargers into one of the most talented teams in football. Serving as Director of Player Personnel (2001-2002) and later Assistant General Manager (2003-2008), Nix oversaw San Diego's drafts helping to land such players as Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Cromartie and Marcus McNeill.
Widely considered by some as one of the top five talent evaluators in the NFL, 28 Chargers drafted by Nix went to Pro Bowls in just four years (2004-07).
"The only way I could be more of a football guy is if I live longer," said Nix. "I've learned from people what to do and I've also learned what not to do. And I believe very strongly that we can get this done. I'll be here seven days a week, whatever it takes. My strengths are football and personnel and that's where I'll spend my time."
After the 2008 draft Nix took a brief hiatus from football before coming back to work for Ralph Wilson and the Bills 11 months ago, but it was never his intention to remain out of football for long.
"I don't think I ever intended to stay out of scouting," said Nix. "I was tired of the situation there andthere just needed to be a change. I wanted to back off and look at everything, but deep down I never intended to get out and stay out."
Nix has 16 years of NFL experience under his belt and he's been given the large task of providing the Bills franchise with a more promising future.
"I'm not trying to build a resume, I'm not trying to build a legacy," said Nix. "Every decision that we make that I have anything to do with will be to help us win."
Brandon, meanwhile was named Chief Executive Officer of the Bills after serving the past two years as COO/GM. He's expected to work in concert with Nix on several of the day-to-day operations of the club. He will directly report to Wilson on any and all matters at One Bills Drive. The front office executive has spent the past 13 years with the Bills.