The Buffalo Bills are moving fast to replace Karl Dunbar as defensive line coach, with Rex Ryan set to add John Blake to his staff, according to a report Monday night from the website footballscoop.com.
The Bills and representatives for Lamar University – where Blake was hired as the defensive line coach last month – did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Buffalo News.
Blake, 55, is a coaching veteran of more than 20 years, with experience in both the NFL and major college football, including a three-year run as the head coach at Oklahoma, where he also played. The Sooners went 36-11 during Blake’s four seasons as a player, finishing two seasons No. 3 in the national rankings.
His coaching career was decidedly less successful, as the Sooners went 12-22 from 1996 to 1998 – the worst three-year stretch in program history.
Blake’s defensive coordinator with the Sooners during the 1998 season? Rex Ryan.
Prior to his time at Oklahoma, Blake served as the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line coach in 1993-1995, winning two Super Bowl titles, the first of which came against the Bills. Dallas’ defense at that time included Pro Bowl defensive linemen Leon Lett, Charles Haley, Russell Maryland and Tony Tolbert.
After leaving the Sooners, Blake had stops at Mississippi State, Nebraska and North Carolina, as Blake coached 15 players who were drafted into the NFL, including five first-round selections.
While with the Tar Heels, however, Blake’s career was derailed by scandal. He resigned in September 2010 amid an NCAA investigation into his relationship with NFL agent Gary Wichard. The NCAA concluded that Blake had been paid by Wichard in exchange for access he provided to student-athletes, without disclosing the income to the university. An investigation by Yahoo! Sports in 2010 discovered that Blake has been employed by Wichard’s firm and wired money from the agent’s bank.
According to an ESPN article in 2012, Blake was also cited for unethical conduct and failing to cooperate with investigators. He was given a three-year show-cause penalty in March 2012 that basically amounted to a suspension.
“I’ve got a whole new energy for coaching now,” Blake told the Beaumont Enterprise last month after being hired at Lamar. “I’m just trying to focus on the positives and hopefully bring a lot of experience to this defense.”
Dunbar, meanwhile, released a statement via Twitter regarding his firing that was shared by NFL agent Ian Greengross.
“While I am completely surprised and disappointed in being relieved of my duties by the Buffalo Bills, I would like to thank: the Bills organization, Terry and Kim Pegula, Coach Ryan, the other Bills coaches, all of the Bills players and all of the staff in Buffalo. I am especially grateful to the numerous players and coaches who reached out and shared their support of me. I wish them success in the future as I seek my next coaching opportunity.”