The news was initially shocking because Ryan comes across as the type of coach that would have to be yanked off the sidelines once and for all with a vaudeville hook. But Ryan will be 68 years old this season and he has been coaching basketball since 1972. Furthermore, the Badgers are coming off their best two-year stretch in program history and returning enough talent to ensure Ryan’s farewell tour will result in another Top-4 Big Ten finish. It’s hard to imagine better timing for retirement.
Ryan’s final season is also poised to be highly intriguing on the hardwood. Though the schedule for the upcoming season has yet to be released, the Big Ten match-ups were announced in February and you could not ask for better slate of opponents.
Highlighting the “schedule” are home and away games against Michigan State and long-time rival coach Tom Izzo. Ryan’s Badgers have historically gotten the better of Izzo’s Spartans, though the tide had turned a bit over the last five seasons (not including last season, of course).
There will also be home and away contests with what should be a loaded Indiana Hoosiers squad. To add to the anticipation, Bo Ryan has enjoyed an “Aaron Rodgers versus the Chicago Bears” level of success against Hoosier coach Tom Crean. You would expect the Hoosiers will be extra-fired up to give their perennial tormentor a proper sendoff.
Outside of conference, there is also potential for a “rematch” with Duke in the 2K Sports Classic, a pre-season tournament.
Most importantly, the upcoming season is the last time college basketball fans will be able to watch a team coached by an all-time great. It’s been an amazing 14-year run in Madison for Bo Ryan and if history has any predictive power, year fifteen will more of the same.