How Ryan Beard went from defensive coordinator to head football coach at Missouri State University

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – With Bobby Petrino’s departure from Missouri State as the football team’s head coach, the university introduced his replacement this week in Bears defensive coordinator – and Petrino son-in-law – Ryan Beard.

MSU presented its new head coach in a press conference Monday at Great Southern Bank Arena. Beard, 33, served as the program’s defensive coordinator for the last three seasons under Petrino and is the 22nd head coach of MSU’s football program.

“God’s time is perfect and here we are,” Beard told reporters at the press conference. “I am happy and blessed to be in this position of leadership. We’re going to make you proud in the community as well as on the field, and I can’t wait to get started.”

MSU Director of Athletics Kyle Moats said at the press conference he met with Beard last week to discuss his philosophy on football, life after football and academics. That’s when Moats says he knew Beard was the man for the job.

“It is important to me that we keep the continuity of our coaching staff intact, as well as the overall structure of our program,” Moats said. “I firmly believe Ryan has earned the respect of our players, our recruits and coaching staff. Ryan’s infectious energy and sincere willingness to want our job was apparent. His enthusiasm is contagious. He believes in Springfield, our fanbase and our university. He knows we have what it takes to compete nationally and be contenders in the Missouri Valley Conference.”

MSU President Clif Smart thanked Petrino for his hard work and dedication to improve the football team since taking the head coaching job in 2020, noting the coach’s quick progress in turning around the one-win Bears team he inherited just three years ago. 

“We are at a different place today than we were three years ago,” Smart said. “It is now time to build on that success. When we hired Coach Petrino, we did not anticipate he would end his career here. That was not the deal. The deal was to come in and turn the program around.”

When Beard took the podium, the former defensive coordinator said he and his family could not be prouder or more humbled for the head coaching opportunity at MSU.

“The people in this program are what make it so great. Our student athletes are bright-eyed, vibrant young men and they do such a great job. The standard of excellence in football will not change. You have to attack workouts, practice and games like it could be your last.”

“Core values as a man, I have three simple ones: faith, family and football,” Beard continued. “It comes in that order. Loyalty is extremely a part of our core values. You’ve got to represent the Bear logo, the MSU logo on your chest with loyalty and integrity and every single thing that you do. There’s eyes on you all the time, and our players believe that and understand that.”

Beard believes Bear fans will see a sense of renewed passion, energy and effort next season. 

“I love our players and they know I love them. I coach them in a way that when they understand you love their heart, you can teach their mind. I think that is exactly what we are going to do. By no means, I’m not Bobby Petrino, but I have been around mentors and people who know how to get it done and we will get it done.”

Before coming to Missouri State, Beard spent the 2019 season as a special teams and safeties coach at Central Michigan University. The former Western Kentucky defensive back standout had been chosen to coach defensive backs for the Hilltoppers in 2016, and assisted in leading his alma mater to the Conference USA championship, going on to eventually win the Boca Raton Bowl. Beard also spent time as a Louisville defensive backs and linebackers coach while eventually becoming co-special teams coordinator. 

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