Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Athletic Hall of Fame

Rex Ryan

Rex Ryan's climb to the top can be traced from his humble beginnings stretching back to his playing days at Southwestern Oklahoma State University to his current day post as head coach of the NFL's New York Jets.

His introduction to football began with his father, Buddy Ryan, who later went on to become a NFL head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals.

Some of Rex's first football memories were of his father's days as an assistant with the Jets. As a boy, Rex grew up idolizing Joe Namath and when the famous quarterback made good on his guarantee of winning the Super Bowl III, he was hooked.

After graduating in 1987 at SWOSU, Rex started coaching the following year at Eastern Kentucky and later had stops at New Mexico Highlands and Moorhead State.

His first venture into the NFL came in 1994 when he joined his father's staff as a linebacker coach for the Arizona Cardinals in 1994.

A chance to become a defensive coordinator brought him back to college where he spent two seasons at Cincinnati. He was back in the Sooner state in 1998 where he led the University of Oklahoma's defense.

His success at OU vaulted him back to the professional ranks and in 1999 he joined the Baltimore Ravens staff.

Rex spent 10 seasons with Baltimore, including his last eight as defensive coordinator. He coached in Super Bowl 35 with a defense that was considered to be one of the best in league history.

His shot at leading his own NFL team was granted on Jan. 19, 2009 when he was introduced as the head coach of the New York Jets.

The first season his team went 9-7, earned a wildcard berth into the playoffs and advanced to the AFC Championship game before falling one game short of the Super Bowl.

His 2010 Jets team was even better finishing the season with an 11-5 record and again earning a spot in the playoffs. Like before, the Jets won back-to-back road games this time Indianapolis and New England before bowing to the Pittsburg Steelers in the AFC Championship.

Today, he is one of the most popular, outspoken, well-liked, and widely respected personalities in the NFL. His amazing passion for the game of football, plus the lessons he had learned in leadership and motivation trace back to his earliest days including his time here at SWOSU.