If you were to ask me to list 10,000 things that would happen in Wisconsin on Tuesday night, Bo Ryan abruptly retiring would not have been one of them. Yet that’s exactly what occurred immediately after the Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders.
Ryan announced in June that the 2015-2016 season would be his last as the Wisconsin head coach. This announcement was amended in August when Ryan essentially said “maybe not.” The abrupt retirement comes as a shock because Ryan appeared to be leaning in the opposite direction. However, it also creates an oddly ideal scenario.
Bo Ryan obviously wanted long-time assistant Greg Gard to be his successor. By retiring mid-season, Gard will have a lengthy audition to prove he’s more than an interim coach. Moreover, Gard inherits a roster that is perfectly constructed to showcase his ability. The Badgers are a team of young players adjusting to life without Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, and Traevon Jackson. To put it another way: they are a team in need of coaching. If they improve over the course of the season and sneak into the NCAA Tournament, Gard will shed that “interim” label.
Of course, now is not the time to worry about the long-term coaching situation at Wisconsin. Now is the time to raise a toast to Bo Ryan, one of the all-time greats who took Wisconsin Basketball to a never-before seen levels of excellence.