Mon, August 17, 2015
Bo Ryan one of Wisconsin's all-time greats but needs to stick with retirement decision
Don't get this post twisted ... I love Bo Ryan as a coach and leader of men. He's taken the Wisconsin Badger program to places few dreamed it could ever go, and his legacy will endure for years to come. That said, his decision to tell the press he might not be done after next season is a peculiar one and puts the program in an awkward position. If this were pro basketball, it might not be such a big deal ... but this is college basketball and the never ending quest to keep atop the recruiting world is daunting -- even for a program like Wisconsin which prides itself on often taking less heralded players. Kids crave some level of structure -- regardless of what they may tell you -- and want to know who their head coach is going to be when committing to a particular school. I know what some will say to that ... kids should choose a school based on the institution and its academics, not the head coach. That's a fine thing to say when you're not the one being recruited. The fact of the matter is these players will spend the majority of collegiate lives in the presence of their coaches and teammates. No matter how much you love the academics and campus life, this fact cannot be ignored. With that being the case, finding the right coach is every bit as important as finding the right major. For some kids, the head coach might very well be more than just the man who leads them in practice every day -- for some, he'll be a father figure and/or mentor in the game of life. I don't know about you, but I consider that to be important. Of course, Wisconsin sports fans are no stranger to waffling. Brett Favre did that successfully for a number of years before the messy breakup in 2008. I'd rather not go down that road again with another iconic figure. The bottom line here is that everyone is forced to make difficult decisions regarding their careers and few are afforded the luxury of being able to go back and forth on the decision. If Ryan was so uncertain of what he wanted to do, there was absolutely no reason to go public with his choice just a few months back. Simply tell Barry Alvarez you're considering it and to be prepared. Of course, many will speculate and suggest they heard a rumor that explains away the behavior ... fine. We all deal in speculation and it certainly sounds like there could be more to this than meets the eye. If this is some sort of political power-play, I have no problem saying I'll be even more disappointed. Bottom line is this, Ryan is a great coach and that should never be taken for granted or forgotten, but even the great ones move on at some point. It's a part of life. And in making an announcement only to go back on it a few months later, you put a great deal of undue stress on the UW program -- let's not forget, nobody is bigger than the program.
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