Wisconsin Basketball: No Excuse For Bo Ryan Hall of Fame Snub


There’s no reason former Wisconsin basketball head coach shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame

For the second straight year, former Wisconsin basketball head coach Bo Ryan was nominated but not inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. What? When I first saw the news, I thought it had to be a joke or a mistake. That’s the only possible explanation, right? Because there isn’t one good argument for Bo Ryan not being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Numbers never lie, right? Well here is one for you. Zero. That is the number of coaches with a higher Big Ten win percentage than Bo Ryan in Big Ten history. Second and third place are Bob Knight and Tom Izzo, the latter of which was inducted into the Hall of Fame today.

In fact, only five coaches in College Basketball history (Dean Smith, Roy Williams, Adolph Rolf, Coach K, and Jerry Tarkanian) have a higher career win percentage than Bo Ryan.

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But the most impressive part of Bo Ryan’s illustrious resume may be the school he succeeded at. Before Bo Ryan took over, Wisconsin basketball had an abysmal history. Since 1950, Wisconsin had only made the NCAA Tournament five times. Making the NIT was considered a massive success.

In 14 years under Bo Ryan, Wisconsin made the NCAA Tournament 14 times, making it to the second weekend 8 times. Not only that, but Bo Ryan turned the program into one of the most consistently good teams in the country, finishing in the top four of the Big Ten every single year of his career.

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That’s not impressive enough for you yet? How about the fact that Bo Ryan won four Big Ten Regular Season Championships at a school that hadn’t taken a Big Ten Title since World War II. Even without his two Final Four’s, the job Bo Ryan did to build the Wisconsin basketball program is worthy of an induction into the Hall of Fame.

And we haven’t even begun to discuss Bo Ryan’s UW-Platteville tenure yet. In 15 years at UW-Platteville, Bo Ryan won 90 percent of his team’s games, four National Championships, and compiled two undefeated seasons. While some may say that it doesn’t matter because he played against Division 3 schools, he also had D-3 players. He just dominated with them.

It would be like saying that Geno Auriemma shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame because he coached against women’s teams. The argument just makes no sense. It’s a Basketball Hall of Fame, not just a D-1 Hall of Fame, which he would be worthy of reaching anyway.

I don’t want to be the “win the right way ” guy, because there are many ways to win in college basketball. But Bo Ryan won without “one-and-done’s” and graduate transfers. He recruited underrated, hard working, high character kids, put them in his system, developed them and won games.

He always ran a clean, cheating free program, unlike Hall of Famers Rick Pitino, Larry Brown, Roy Williams, John Calipari, and Jim Boeheim. If there is such thing as winning the right way, then Bo Ryan is the classic example of how to do it.

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Really, the only argument (even though it’s a horrible argument) for Bo Ryan not reaching the Hall of Fame is his lack of Division 1 National Championships. But should a crazy hot performance by Grayson Allen or an NBA three-pointer by Aaron Harrison really matter that much?

Let’s say Grayson Allen has a normal game and Wisconsin wins. Does that really make Bo Ryan a better coach?

No, of course not. The NCAA Tournament is fun, but we all know 68 team, single elimination tournaments aren’t the best way to decide a champion. So why should we decide whether a coach gets into the Hall of Fame based on it? Bo Ryan’s body of work speaks for itself.

Every single person that voted against Bo Ryan’s inclusion into the Hall of Fame should be ashamed at themselves for their obvious lack of research and effort.

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There is no excuse for leaving a coach as deserving as Bo Ryan out two years in a row. Luckily, Bo Ryan will probably be nominated again next year, and hopefully, the same horrible mistake won’t be made.