CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Pat Ryan is still writing his job description nearly three months into his new role as the Illinois football team’s Director of Illinois High School Relations. It’s a job first year head coach Bret Bielema created, as he tries to bridge the gap between high school football coaches and teams throughout the state and the Illini.
“Part of this job is going to be reaching out to high school coaches across the state,” Ryan said. “I’ve taken a lot of notes and saying, ‘Hey what would you do if you were me in this position? What do you think we need that we don’t have to reconnect the University of Illinois football program with the coaches in the state of Illinois’ and we’ve already started to see it happen.”
Ryan joined the Illini in April after retiring from Metamora, where he spent 30 years leading the Redbirds to seven state championship games, two state titles (2007, 2009), and a 268-75 (.781) record in 30 seasons. He has the 14th-most wins in Illinois high school history and the 11th most of any coach at one school. Ryan was inducted to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016.
“I’m very excited to bring the life lessons of Coach Ryan here to the Illinois football program,” Bielema said in a statement when Ryan was hired. “He started as an Illinois high school football player then moved on to be an assistant coach and a head coach at Metamora and has reached the highest level of success in state football history. He has been able to build relationships with high school players, high school coaches, and college programs throughout his entire coaching career. He will be a huge asset for us as we continue to build relationships throughout the state of Illinois and across the country. We are very excited for Coach Ryan and his family to join us here in Champaign and look forward to a very bright future.”