Oklahoma State football hires Bryan Nardo as defensive coordinator

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STILLWATER — Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy dug deep to find his new defensive coordinator, plucking Bryan Nardo from the NCAA Division II level.

Nardo comes from Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. He previously worked at Youngstown State and Emporia State, where he served as the defensive coordinator for eight years.

Gundy also gave new titles to a pair of longtime defensive assistants, the university announced on Tuesday. Linebackers coach Joe Bob Clements was elevated to co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Tim Duffie added the title of defensive passing game coordinator.

Nardo replaces Derek Mason, who spent one season at OSU, but announced earlier this month he would be taking a sabbatical from college coaching.

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Oklahoma State hired Bryan Nardo as defensive coordinator. Nardo spent the 2022 season as the coordinator at Gannon University, a Division II program in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Oklahoma State hired Bryan Nardo as defensive coordinator. Nardo spent the 2022 season as the coordinator at Gannon University, a Division II program in Erie, Pennsylvania.

In the transition from former defensive coordinator Jim Knowles to Mason a year ago, Gundy asked Mason to adapt to the scheme and language used by Knowles the previous four years. However, it seems more likely that Nardo will be allowed to have more influence on the defensive style.

Nardo runs the 3-3-5 scheme made popular by Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock — a scheme Gundy has long coveted and often praises.

Knowles arrived in 2018 with a 4-2-5 scheme that, with the help of the OSU staff, morphed into a multiple-front defense that included more 3-3-5 influence.

At Gannon last season, Nardo’s defense allowed an average of 287.4 yards per game, down from 393.3 the season before he arrived.

“I’m excited about the addition of Bryan Nardo as our defensive coordinator,” Gundy said in a statement. “He’s a young, energetic, bright football coach who brings 10 years of coordinating experience with him. He’s been successful and his innovative system has helped win games everywhere he’s been.

“Additionally, I have elevated Joe Bob Clements to Co-Defensive Coordinator and Tim Duffie to Defensive Passing Game Coordinator. They’ve had a long-term commitment to Oklahoma State and have been a large part of the success of our program.”

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Nardo is originally from Shadyside, Ohio, and began his coaching career as a student assistant at Ohio University.

His first coordinating job came at Emporia (Kansas) State, a Division II program coached by Oklahoma native Garin Higgins. Nardo spent eight seasons there from 2012-19, almost exclusively as defensive coordinator, while also recruiting the state of Oklahoma.

“I cannot thank Coach Gundy and the rest of the staff enough for their openness throughout this entire process and for trusting me with this responsibility,” Nardo said in a statement. “I am extremely excited to join the rich tradition of Oklahoma State football. I can’t wait to get to work and continue to build upon all of the great things that have been done here throughout history. I spent eight years recruiting the state of Oklahoma, seeing first-hand the amount of pride people have in this university’s athletic programs. There’s no better place to be able to represent.

“I am also thankful for Coach Erik Raeburn and Lisa Goddard McGuirk for the opportunities they presented me with at Gannon. Their trust and belief is something I don’t feel like I will ever be able to truly repay. Gannon is a special place and I loved every day working there.”

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The Bryan Nardo file

  • Age: 37

  • Hometown: Shadyside, Ohio

  • Family: Wife, Emma; sons, Dominick Paul and Elijah Ray

  • Coaching stops: Ohio University, student assistant (2004-07); Ohio University, graduate assistant (2008-10); Missouri S&T, linebackers/special teams coordinator (2011); Emporia State, defensive coordinator (2012-19); Youngstown State, linebackers (2020-21); Gannon University, defensive coordinator (2022)

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma State football hires Bryan Nardo as defensive coordinator