This week seemed like it would be yet another quiet one for Wisconsin Badgers fans, perhaps containing some football recruiting news, but not much more.
Instead, Bo Ryan changed that with the drop of a tweet and email from Wisconsin's men's basketball program on Monday: the coach of 14 seasons would be coaching one more, and then retiring. In his statement, Ryan said he hoped longtime assistant Greg Gard would replace him -- we've already wondered if that will be the case and pondered the reaction to his announcement.
Yet news like this takes time to digest. After all, how do you move on from 14 NCAA tournament appearances in 14 seasons, two consecutive Final Four runs and quite possibly the most efficient offense college basketball has seen in said time span?
To answer that question, we decided it was time for another B5Q roundtable discussion. This one focuses on Bo Ryan's greatest moments, our favorite memories of the forever quotable and impressionable head coach, and the legacy he'll leave behind once he officially enters retirement. Hopefully you enjoy and will let us know what you think in the comments below.
1. What was your first reaction to Monday's announcement that Bo Ryan will coach one more season and then retire?
Andrew Rosin: Internal screaming. I'm someone who remembers when a trip to the NIT was a big deal in Madison. Even in the '80s, the NIT was a culturally irrelevant thing. But Badger basketball is on more solid footing than it was when Dick Bennett left the program. I'll be okay. I think.
Neal Olson: At first blush, it was impossible not to recognize the symmetry of Bo's retirement announcement to that of Barry Alvarez's. From the "one more year" bit to naming his successor, it feels like the second verse of the same story. Let's just hope Greg Gard doesn't leave for some tread-upon SEC basketball school -- or would it be the ACC in this scenario?
Luke Mueller: I was shocked that it happened now -- in the middle of the summer -- rather than after the Final Four. I suppose it makes sense because he just signed his recruiting class, so no one but Andy Van Vliet can back out. I sensed the end was near because other than winning a DI national championship, what else is left for Bo to do?! Last year was his best shot, and unfortunately it didn't work out, but he is a Naismith Hall of Famer (eventually) has rings from DIII and two Final Fours. He's done everything.
Drew Hamm: Oh, what, we're just allowing someone who has left us to come back when someone else is leaving us?!?! HOW MANY MORE TIMES CAN YOU HURT US, LUKE AND ALSO BO!?!?! I'm still working through some things emotionally over here, but overall I'm happy we get one more season with Bo Ryan at the helm of our basketball team.
Phil Mitten: Simply wow. Surprised, but not shocked. Can’t believe the day is finally in sight and official.
2. Succinctly (as much so as possible), what do you consider to be Bo's legacy?
Neal Olson: Using efficiency to measure success WAY before Kenpom.com or anyone else attempted to use advanced stats. Once Bo trotted out the one-point-per-possession rhetoric as a measuring bar for point guards, I was sold. Also his uncanny ability to sit in a deep squat for large portions of the game. Bo has knees of iron.
Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Luke Mueller: While Dick Bennett may have put UW basketball on some people's radars with his Final Four run,Ryan made sure they were easy to find. What he has done in his 14 years is unprecedented at UW and will likely never be matched. A tournament appearance in every season he's coached, seven Sweet 16s, three Big Ten titles and two Final Fours. He's also never finished lower than fourth in the Big Ten, which has arguably been the toughest conference in all of basketball during his coaching tenure.
He's not only accomplished all of this for his teams, but he has elevated the popularity and skill of basketball players in the state of Wisconsin. He had two first-round draft picks this season from his team and there were three Wisconsin high school products drafted. To some extent, Ryan has even had an effect on them as well, even though Kevon Looney went to UCLA and J.P. Tokoto was a UNC product.
Drew Hamm: The loyalty he has engendered among his players towards the program. To a man, every player that has played under Ryan (except maybe Jarrod Uthoff) thinks of him as a second father. During big -- and not so big -- games, you'll always see familiar faces behind the bench of players from years past. Having pride in the Wisconsin basketball program is not something that is decades old like at Kentucky or UCLA or even Michigan. It is a relatively new phenomenon and Bo Ryan is responsible for it.
Phil Mitten: Bo’s legacy is one of greatness, consistency, confidence and integrity. The NCAA tournament streak and Top 4 finishes streak are remarkable and have turned a one-time laughing stock program from cinderella to national power.
Andrew Rosin: Bo Ryan is Wisconsin basketball. What more is there to say?
3. Bo got kinda crazy on the sidelines sometimes/quite often! What was your favorite non-X's and O's Bo Ryan moment? Multiple submissions allowed.
Andrew Rosin: Bo Ryan fire .GIF. Bo Ryan fire .GIF!
Neal Olson: Whoever did the side-by-side of Bo Ryan facial expressions next to Jim Carrey's Grinch. That always killed me.
Phil Mitten: F-bombs and deep knee bends. His national TV halftime interviews were usually golden, too.
Luke Mueller: I will never forget Bo's press conferences. Covering the team this season, I had a front-row seat for some of the best stories of all time. My favorite stories of his are when he talks about his days in Chester, Pa.; when he starts talking about his childhood, all bets are off.
Drew Hamm: Ryan's voice always reminded me of home. He has a terrible Philly accent and it always made me happy to listen to him pontificate on any number of topics. A top memory of Ryan isn't even one of mine. My wife used to work at the Nitty Gritty in college and she said Ryan was by far the nicest UW athletics employee that dined there and also the best tipper.
4. The homer filter is off: Where do you rank Ryan among college basketball coaches, active and all-time?
Phil Mitten: Bo is certainly hanging somewhere around the top five active coaches currently. It’s so hard to compare historically, but he’s one of the best to ever do it in the Big Ten. Since he’s now knocking on the door of the Naismith Hall of Fame (which only includes 95 coaches), William Francis Ryan could soon have a claim as one of the top 100 basketball coaches, period. All things considered, it’s safe to say he’s a top-40/50 guy on the college hoops scene.
Andrew Rosin: If you count winning in a place where it's difficult and doing so consistently, Bo Ryan is a top-10 coach all time. He probably isn't going to be listed there because he had a run in the NCAA tournament where he consistently ran into losing to mid-majors and currently doesn't have a Division I title, but Ryan is in the handful of best active coaches of all time.
Neal Olson: Among active coaches, he's easily top 10. All-time ranking probably takes a bit of a hit since he hasn't won a national championship at the DI level (yet). However, his work at Platteville probably gets him into the top 25 still.
Luke Mueller: Among active coaches, Ryan is a surefire top-10 coach. I would argue he does more with less better than just about anyone in the country. I think he is close to top-five for that reason. He also evaluates talent for his system better than most. All-time is so hard to distinguish because there are so many great coaches at other levels of college basketball. I think over his career at all levels, he is a top-50 coach, but evaluating his work against some of the great and mostly unrecognized coaches at the DII, NAIA and DIII levels is so hard to compare. You also can't forget women's greats such as Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma. Still, Bo is a top coach in any generation.
Drew Hamm: Among active coaches, there are only a handful better and among coaches all time, the list of coaches better than Bo Ryan only expands by about 20. He is an excellent coach and I think history will judge him kindly.
5. Who would you like to see replace Ryan? Greg Gard, Tony Bennett or someone else?
Andrew Rosin: Already answered this question here.
Phil Mitten: I think Tony Bennett would bring more cachet and recruiting prowess to the program than Greg Gard, but I’m fine with Gard finally getting his shot. If it weren’t for Gard, I’d love to see UNI’s Ben Jacobsen get a good look. All of these three guys would uphold a lot of the same tenets Bo adheres to.
Neal Olson: Tough question. Do we learn the lessons of the football program and go with the safe and maybe boring pick (Gard) or the internet message board/Twitter fanbase popularity contest (Bennett)? Gard has been the lead recruiter for the last half decade. Considering the continuity and endorsement from Bo himself, I lean towards Gard. However, it would be convenient for college hoops pundits for Tony Bennett to get the job. It would allow them to consolidate all their slow tempo complaints towards one school.
Luke Mueller: I would love to see Gard replace Ryan simply because I think he does not get enough credit for his contributions to the program. He has been by Ryan's side for over 20 years now and is a great scout of talent and opponents' skills. I think he would shine in this role, but naming him head coach may hurt recruiting a bit. Think of how long it took Bo to put UW on the recruiting map (you could even argue he still hasn't fully done it).
I will leave you with this thought: a really good coach in waiting did great in the Big Ten long ago. His name? Tom Izzo. Izzo took over after Jud Heathcote. Izzo is a testament to the "coach in waiting" working.
Sorry y'all I've been busy updating my resume. #Hamm4WisconsinBasketball @UWBadgers @BadgerMBB @UWMadison @VP @POTUS @ScottWalker @Pontifex— Rich Hammie Quan (@drewhamm5) June 29, 2015
6. Obviously it depends on who indeed replaces him, but what do you envision Wisconsin basketball looking like without Bo Ryan?
Phil Mitten: I don’t know if we’ll see Wisconsin remain at the very top annually in fewest turnovers. The Badgers can still be excellent, of course, but you don’t see really any head coaches pulling star players for mental errors as quickly or as often as Bo does. And that’s kind of what it takes to show the whole team you mean business when you ask them to play a certain way. I think with the right hire, Wisconsin will remain an upper-division Big Ten team that can make noise in the postseason, but I don’t expect the same insane level of consistency. We’ve been spoiled.
Andrew Rosin: I don't envy who replaces him. The Badgers have been at heights '80s kids at one point never thought possible. I expect them to play something stylistically similar. So long as they play about as well as they did in the 2000s, if they just stay in the tournament and get a deep run or two along the way. The replacement will get time to find their footing.
Neal Olson: Bo Ryan is Wisconsin basketball. Regardless of who takes over, the ideology of plodding, buzz-cut, old-timey basketball will forever be imprinted on that national psyche. The year in, year out top-four finish in the Big Ten will likely be over, but the expectations of NCAA tournament mainstay and, every few seasons, a run at the Final Four will be possible.
Luke Mueller: Bo Ryan is UW basketball, as Neal said. He will always be synonymous with UW basketball. I don't think Bo's streak of never finishing below fourth will continue with the new coach, whoever it may be and granted Bo gets the Badgers in that top tier of the conference again. I do think there will be a bit of a drop0off in performance in conference, but I think the next coach can keep the tournament streak alive, which would be extremely impressive.
Drew Hamm: At the end of this upcoming season, if Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig both return for their senior seasons, the Badgers could look strikingly similar to a Bo Ryan-coached team under their new coach. After that, depending on the hire, there may be a slight slide in the standings as the new coach finds his footing.
However, Wisconsin basketball -- much like football -- appears to be in the national conversation for good now. Thanks, Bo Ryan. You are the most important coach to come through Madison (besides Barry Alvarez) in the last 50 years.