NFL Playoffs: Rob Ryan not the only defensive genius in the Ryan family

by Jenni Carlson Published: January 10, 2014
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photo - New York Jets coach Rex Ryan speaks to the media during an NFL football news conference Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New York Jets coach Rex Ryan speaks to the media during an NFL football news conference Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Rob Ryan was such a success at Oklahoma State that Oklahoma decided to hire his twin brother.

Well, watching Rob turn around the Cowboys' defense and taking the if-you-can't-beat-‘em-join-‘em approach might not have been the only reason the Sooners hired Rex Ryan before the 1998 season as their defense coordinator.

Still, things worked out pretty well for OU. Rex was only in Norman one year — John Blake and Co. got fired at the end of that 5-6 season — but the Sooner defense wasn't the problem. It allowed 30 points once and ranked sixth in the nation in total defense.

Plus, Rex helped to recruit several players who were keys to future success, prime among them Roy Williams.

And much like his brother at OSU, Rex instilled confidence at OU.

“I remember his first meeting, saying, ‘Hey, defensively, we've got to be aggressive,'” said former Sooner defensive tackle Kelly Gregg, who was a senior during Rex's lone season at OU but also played nine seasons under him with the Baltimore Ravens. “Xs and Ox, he's up there, but as a motivator, he believed in his guys.

“You'd be hard pressed to find a disgruntled player who played for Rex. ... He's the best.”

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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