Asked during a conference call Wednesday if there might be some irony in that hire, Ryan didn’t disagree.
“It’s funny, because I never liked him,” Ryan replied. “It was the same way. I always looked at him, ‘Shoot, this guy.’ My biggest thing is, he thought he was tougher than me. He thought his team was tougher than mine, and I thought mine was tougher than his, and I thought I was tougher than him.
“But one thing I always did was I respected him. I recognize him being an outstanding football coach and his teams played hard. You could tell he was passionate about the game. That was why it was easy for me when we had a job open, that’s the first guy I went to.”
Ryan said Sparano coming back to South Florida reminds him of when he returned to Baltimore, where he had served nearly a decade as an assistant coach.
“I know how special it is, because you’ve got a lot of people … those players, you know, he cares about them a great deal. Without question. Without question. And he’s got great memories from coaching there, and people in the organization, and all that.
“There’s probably some people in the organization he doesn’t care for. I could tell you this: I know how special it is, going back and competing. The players mainly, the people who really care about, the guys who have bled for you and all that. Because that’s what it’s all about.”
Asked jokingly if he might send Sparano out for the coin toss, Ryan laughed and said, “No, I don’t think we’ll do that this time. But we’ll see. That would be a first.”
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