By now you should know the origin story of college football’s most powerful agent. A college friendship with Reggie White led Jimmy Sexton into becoming an agent, and a lightning bolt of fate and the urging of Bill Parcells led him to start representing coaches.
If you didn’t already know that, Mark Schlabach’s lengthy profile for ESPN perfectly illuminates a figure who, despite his reputation, would much rather remain hidden.
“The people that think he desires attention or wants it don’t know him at all,” Hugh Freeze said. “He’d rather be in a corner unnoticed than to be talked about in that light.”
But my favorite part of the piece illustrated Sexton’s connections within the college football world. By all accounts Sexton has a gift for getting along with people — “He’s never pissed anybody off,” said Nick Saban — and that’s led him to become, if not the most powerful person in college football, then perhaps the most connected.
Behold a day in the life of Jimmy Sexton.
After returning from his extended business trip, Sexton planned to spend a rare night at home. He lives in the suburbs of Memphis on an expansive property he shares with the parents of former Alabama and current Chicago Bears offensive lineman Barrett Jones.
But while driving to a restaurant in Memphis, a friend of Sexton’s called from Oxford and urged him to come there for dinner. Sexton had planned to drive to Ole Miss the next morning to watch the Rebels play Arkansas before flying to watch the Crimson Tide play.
After a five-minute phone call, Sexton pulled a U-turn on Poplar Avenue in his Range Rover and headed back to his house. After packing an overnight bag and calling his nanny to make sure she’d be there to care for his chocolate lab, Shaq, he made the 70-mile drive to Oxford.
Soon, Sexton was having dinner with a few close friends at a trendy new restaurant on the square. He mingled with Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy, the Ole Miss grads made famous in the movie “The Blind Side.” A few minutes later, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, one of Sexton’s most famous clients and a close friend, stopped by his table to say hello.
Early Saturday, Sexton attended parents’ weekend at his son’s Ole Miss fraternity, purchased a pullover jacket for his youngest son and even took a telephone call from a Power 5 athletic director looking for a new head coach.
He then spent a few hours in the Ole Miss football offices, where he watched Florida struggle to beat Vanderbilt 9-7 to win the SEC East, which, as part of McElwain’s contract, earned the coach a $37,500 bonus in his first season. Then Sexton watched the Rebels play the Hogs from Freeze’s suite at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Sexton kept one eye on the TV, watching Fisher’s Florida State team stay close with No. 1 Clemson before the Tigers eventually won the game, 23-13.
Former NFL and USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, whose son, Chris, is the Rebels’ defensive line coach, also watched the game from Freeze’s suite. It was his first time watching the Rebels play in person. When Kiffin mentioned that he’d never watched Alabama play in person, either, Sexton offered him a seat on his plane and a chance to go watch Lane Kiffin, Monte’s oldest son, as well as a return flight after the game.
On the phone before the game, Sexton had jokingly asked Freeze to make sure his team was ahead by three touchdowns at halftime so he wouldn’t miss Alabama’s kickoff. Instead, the Rebels and Razorbacks were tied at 17 at the half when he left the stadium. Once the plane landed in Tuscaloosa more than an hour later, the Hogs and Rebels were deadlocked at 31 heading into the fourth quarter.
After the plane landed on the rain-slicked runway at Tuscaloosa Regional Airport, Sexton and his party climbed into a pickup truck. His son Blake and his friend, who also attended the SEC doubleheader, noticed a gun rack — complete with guns — on the truck’s ceiling.
“Don’t worry,” the driver told them. “They’re not loaded.”
Welcome to Tuscaloosa.
A few minutes later, Sexton was behind the wheel of a rental car, hoping to beat traffic to watch the end of the Ole Miss game. Sexton used several side streets to avoid the crowds on Paul W. Bryant Drive and pulled into a parking space adjacent to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
He was able to watch the end of the Ole Miss game in the North Field Suites. Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry caught a pass on fourth-and-25 and wildly lateraled over his head to tailback Alex Collins, who ran 31 yards for a first down. Meanwhile, Sexton’s assistant, Autumn Clark, was hiding under a table, unable to watch the dramatic ending. Clark played basketball for Freeze in high school and also worked for him at Ole Miss until Sexton hired her.
She might have been the only person in Bryant-Denny Stadium who wasn’t cheering when Arkansas upset Ole Miss 53-52 in overtime. The Razorbacks’ victory meant Alabama would win the SEC West if it won its final three conference games.
Sexton spent the next three hours watching the Crimson Tide dismantle then-No. 2 LSU 30-16 from a luxury suite. He spent much of the night talking to Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, with whom he’s worked on NFL deals in the past.
A bucket list Saturday for the average fan is another day in Sexton’s life.