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Who is Wisconsin's Greatest Coach of the Last 25 Years, Bo Ryan or Barry Alvarez?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Up until this season I had never considered that Bo Ryan might be better in the Wisconsin Badger lore than Barry Alvarez. After Wisconsin’s win over Baylor Thursday, he just might be.

The coaching comparison is a lot closer than I thought it was. Both have been animated characters in my lifetime, although Ryan has had more camera time, Alvarez has had his fair share of emotional outbursts on the sidelines.

As I grew up football was the number one sport for me. It was all Ron Dayne and Brett Favre. I don’t remember the first Rose Bowl win by the Badgers in ‘93, but I know exactly where I was for the 1999 and 2000 wins when Dayne could not be stopped.

I still do not consider the 2013 Rose Bowl an Alvarez loss because he was just a fill-in. Even with the loss he would still be an impressive 8-4 in bowl games.

Let’s take a look at the Alvarez tenure in Madison:

Big Ten Championships: 1993, 1998, and 1999

Big Ten Coach of the Year: Alvarez won in 1993 and 1998.

Bowl Games: In addition to the three Rose Bowls, the football teams won the 1995 Hall of Fame, 1996 Copper, 2000 Sun, 2002 Alamo, and the 2006 Capital One Bowl, and lost in the 1998 Outback, 2003 Music City, and 2005 Outback Bowl.

Overall Record: 118-73-4 (.622)

Big Ten Record: 65-60-3 (.520)

I came around to Wisconsin basketball later in my life. The Elite 8 run that was halted by Steph Curry was the first year I felt invested with a Badger season. If anything I was more of a fan of Dwyane Wade and Tom Crean as they guided Marquette to the dance a few years before.

As the Bielema era began, and Buzz Williams tried to outcrazy Bo Ryan, I felt like Badger basketball really came into its own. The style was so … deliberate. Play-by-play announcers and color analysts had to explain to viewers why things were going so slow because otherwise the game would be filled with dead air. Every score matters in a close football game, and now every basket mattered in basketball.

This year has been exceptional, aside from two weeks where I assume everyone was just living in the library and staying away from the basketball court, and Bo Ryan’s coaching ability has shined in some impressive wins.

Wins against future No. 1 seeds Florida and Virginia, and wins against fellow Sweet 16 members Michigan and Michigan State, are great for the regular season, but when it comes to the madness of March, the Badgers usually upset rather than upset.

Bo Ryan and Barry Alvarez have had some big regular-season wins, but there is no Rose Bowl for basketball, which makes it hard to put the two on equal footing.

Now let’s see what Bo Ryan brought to the table:

Big Ten Championships: 2002, 2003, and 2008, with tournament championships in 2004 and 2008.

Big Ten Coach of the Year: Ryan won in 2002, 2003, and 2013.

NCAA Appearances: 13

Sweet 16: 2002, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013

Elite 8: 2004, 2014

Final Four: 2014

So now it’s up to the Badger faithful to decide which coach means more to Wisconsin. Both coaches mean the world to their respective sports, but Barry gets my vote.

Leave your comments below to help us decide.

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Tags: Barry Alvarez Bo Ryan Wisconsin Badgers Wisconsin Badgers Basketball Wisconsin Badgers Football

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