Athletic Hall of Fame
Rob Ryan came to SWOSU in 1981 with his twin brother Rex. Both had been given a scholarship by Coach Bob Mazie who befriended their father, Buddy, while working at a football summer camp in Chicago.
As a 6-2, 180 pounds defensive end, Rod had somehow flown under the radar of major college recruiters after graduation from Stevenson High School in Prairie View, III.
Rob's introduction to SWOSU football was no different than many of the freshmen today. Much of it was spent at the wrong end of a tackling dummy or as practice squad fodder. Rob and his brother were cofounders of the "Ryan Squad," which was the nine-person scout team that hit the starters much harder than they were accustomed to. Oh yes, they were skirmishes and insults exchanged, many of which you've no doubt heard about.
Both Rob and Rex let their playing aspirations go after the 1981 season, but their football dreams had grown stronger.
After graduating in 1987, Rob made a few stops at some small colleges before he began coaching alongside his father in 1994 with the Arizona Cardinals as the defensive backs coach. In his first season, the Cardinals boasted the NFL's third ranked defense and then in the following year led the entire league with 45 takeaways.
He returned to Oklahoma in 1997 and spent three years as defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. Under his leadership, the Cowboys defense ranked among the best in the nation and finished the year with an 8-4 record and an Alamo Bowl berth.
His next job came as the linebackers coach for the NFL's New England Patriots. He spent four seasons with New England and was part of two Super Bowl championship teams-36 and 38.
He was given full control of his first NFL defense in 2004 when he was hired as the coordinator for the Oakland Raiders. He spent five seasons with the Raiders, and by year three, he had the league's best rated pass defense and third-best overall.
Rob left Oakland in 2009 to take over the same role with the Cleveland Browns. Again as before, he bettered the Browns. Cleveland did not allow a touchdown in his first three games and ended the season with 40 sacks, the most by the club in eight years. Cleveland improved statistically in points allowed, total yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, and sacks and first downs allowed.
Rob took his current job as the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator on Jan. 15, 2011.
Ask any Cowboy defender and they will tell you they are thrilled with their new boss and feed off his excitement and energy. Dallas ended 2011 yielding a full touchdown less than the previous team while improving itself 15 spots in fewest points allowed.
All total, he has spent more than 25 years as a football coach, including the last 15 in the National Football League.