For much of this season, following the many losses of Wisconsin basketball, a familiar refrain was taken up. Now, after failing to make the NCAA tournament a second time in his tenure, more people are shouting “Fire Greg Gard!”
I will admit, I am a “NOOB” when it comes to following Wisconsin sports. I grew up in Pennsylvania, born into a Penn State household. My knowledge of historic Wisconsin sports pretty much starts in the early 90s, although I knew that Al Toon was a Badger before becoming a great wide receiver for the New York Jets.
My Wisconsin basketball knowledge was even sparser. Wisconsin was a team that I would see regularly beat up on Penn State. I was an admirer of Dick Bennett and even more so of Bo Ryan. I watched with both horror and awe as those two teams played a Big Ten tournament game that single-handedly set back modern basketball decades (a 36-33 Penn State win).
But make no mistake. I have a deepening, albeit relatively new, love for this program. I chose to write about Wisconsin sports because I’ve always admired all of the programs. As I’ve been covering the school’s various sports programs, I have been very impressed with the level of knowledge and passion of the fan base. There may be disagreements on different topics, but the level of discord between the opposing sides is kept respectful for the most part.
The topic of Wisconsin basketball head coach Greg Gard and his future with the school is one of those topics that there is great debate about. Many fans, rightfully so, are disgusted with a season that once started out so promising and ended with the Badgers being down by 27 points during a conference tournament game that was viewed as a must-win by many for their hopes of getting into the NCAA tournament.
I will admit to being a very staunch defender of Gard for the season. I think two out of the last three regular seasons (now four) as co-champions of the Big Ten, as well as Big Ten Coach of the Year, is nothing to be sneezed at. Teams and programs sometimes go through periods of not meeting expectations.
I try to look at every side of any argument. I recently read an article talking about why Coach Gard should be fired and who should replace him that got me thinking about this debate from different angles.
(cue the music from Law and Order)
Let the case against Wisconsin basketball coach Greg Gard commence. Each side will be discussed without any rebuttals from the opposition. The honorable Joey Lovell presiding (that’s a joke people, although I am honorable)