Written by LaShawn Encarnacion aka The Dark Knight of Sports
In what was believed to be a non-scripted plan, one of the best coaches in the Big Ten decided that it was time for him to step down. With an unimpressive 7-5 record to start the season and after a victory of Texas A & M last night, Wisconsin basketball head coach Bo Ryan retires effective immediately.
Bo Ryan had the feeling coming into the season that the time to step down was approaching. Rumors were already swirling around about his retirement through media outlets as well. But Ryan did things on his terms, the way he coached his team. Ryan trusted his heart and why last night was the night.
After the game, Ryan went into detail about his decision.
“This was a decision months in the making,” Ryan said in a news release about his retirement. “I brought this up to [athletic director Barry Alvarez] back in April. He advised me to take some time to think it over and I appreciated that. But in recent weeks, I have come to the conclusion that now is the right time for me to retire and for Greg Gard to have the opportunity to coach the team for the remainder of the season. I discussed this with Barry and I appreciate him giving me the space to make this decision.”
The 2015 Badgers under Bo Ryan may at first be known for their current record of 7-5 but that is not what Ryan should be remembered for. His back-to-back Final Fours, the four Big Ten regular-season titles and three conference tournament crowns in 14-plus seasons. And the four Big Ten coach of the year awards.
They will recall his unblemished mark on Selection Sunday: Wisconsin never missed the Big Dance with Ryan on the sideline. Before he arrived, the Badgers had made the tournament seven times in their history. He tripled that number to 21. During his tenure, Wisconsin had the best record in the Big Ten. He never finished below fourth in the conference.
All of this came after he won four national championships with Division III UW-Platteville.
Fans will remember players like Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, Dujay Duke, Devin Harris, Jon Leuer, Alando Tucker and Marcus Landry who are making an NBA impact. Ryan’s way of coaching was classified as “blue-collared” where fundamentals and working within a system with the prospects he was able to obtain. The Badgers reminded you of a college version of the NBA dynasty team, the San Antonio Spurs, who is also based on fundamentals.
His teams battled. They were never careless. He rarely scrimmaged in practice. He preferred sessions on fundamentals. He drilled the swing offense into his players, so much so that some say they would utilize the scheme in pickup games. Discipline. That was always his demand. Do it right.
Perhaps that’s why he wavered. What’s “right” in this scenario? You stay and you run the risk of coaching too long. You leave mid-season and some folks say you have departed too soon: They said that about Bennett when he retired three games into the 2000-01 season after guiding Wisconsin to the Final Four in 2000. Interim coach Brad Soderberg coached the rest of that season before Ryan arrived in 2001-02.
A true gentleman’s coach, his peers singing his praises of how Ryan went about his coaching ways. A hall-of-fame career is what Ryan leaves behind. In the end, Ryan earned leaving on his terms.
Bo Ryan knew there was life after basketball. There’s the daughter with the yoga studio in Madison. The son who is an assistant coach at Ohio.
There are the grand-kids. They’re getting bigger now. And Ryan wants to be there. His children could see how he increased his involvement in their lives and set aside more time for them after his own father, Butch Ryan, died before those memorable Final Four trips.
Basketball, basketball, basketball.
It’s been his life, one that has considered everyone else for four decades.
Players. Assistants. Fans. Recruits. Boosters. Administrators.
Bo Ryan ends his coaching career how we started it and worked with it for his 17 seasons with major colleges … with his heart.
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