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Bo Ryan says goodbye to Badgers in surprising fashion, announces immediate retirement

Tuesday night, the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team took to the court and won an ugly contest over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. It’s flawed win quickly took a back seat though, as head coach Bo Ryan surprised everyone by announcing an immediate retirement from coaching.

His retirement was thought to be at the end of the 2015-16 season, but reports throughout the summer and early fall indicated that Ryan may be backing off that thought and look to coach more.

That didn’t happen, and suddenly a program with a strong rudder is tested in a major way. Don’t fret though, because this isn’t the first time a situation like that has happened.

If you’re a Wisconsin Badgers basketball fan, Bo Ryan’s retirement announcement has a strangely familiar feeling. That’s because it has happened before, with Dick Bennett retiring early in the 2000-01 season and leaving the program to chief assistant Brad Soderberg.

This season, it will be long-time Ryan assistant, Greg Gard, getting the reigns of the program and a long audition to become the full-time head coach when it is all said and done.

The two retirement’s aren’t just similar because of the timing of early season, but Bennet’s retirement came on the heels of a Final Four appearance for the Badgers, its first since a national championship in the 1940-41 season.

Bo’s came on the heels of an appearance in the national championship game and back-to-back Final Fours.

However, Ryan took this program from a sometime NCAA tournament team to an all the time NCAA tournament team and one of the nation’s winningest programs in his 14-year tenure.

The facts surrounding Ryan’s tenure are amazing, so much so that Dave Revsine dropped this nugget:

Adding to that are these crazy facts:

• A .737 win pct. (364-130) overall

• A .717 win pct. (172-68) in Big Ten play

• A .906 win pct. (211-22) at home

• 7 Big Ten titles

• The 11 winningest seasons in UW history

• 6 players with AP All-America recognition

• 14 NCAA tournaments, 7 Sweet 16s, 3 Elite Eights, 2 Final Fours and 1 national championship game.

Wisconsin started this season as a major question mark, with eight freshman on the roster and three NBA players gone from last seasons starting roster. Few teams, let alone a program built on building players over the long haul, are capable of that kind of turnover without some bumps.

The Badgers certainly had those bumps, leaving Ryan with a 7-5 record as a head coach this season — including losses to mid-major programs Milwaukee and Western Illinois. However, it wasn’t the losing or the youth of this program that did Ryan in. Rather, it simply was just what his heart and head were finally telling him was the right thing to do.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising given Ryan’s no-nonsense approach to his 30-plus year career as a head coach. After all, his philosophies were really simple when it comes down to it:

Ryan left with words that any who know or have spent time with him know are true of a great basketball coach and more importantly — a basketball junkie.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball


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