We knew Bo Ryan was going to retire, we just didn’t know when. The timing of his retirement earlier this week made perfect sense for a number of reasons, which you can read about on all the sports pages. Nonetheless, it was a bit of a shock to know Bo is done as Coach of the Wisconsin Badgers. But, what a run!
In the late ’70s, WISM radio in Madison had a basketball team called the WISM Wizards. We played charity games, mostly against high school faculties. Listeners loved to come out and see the disc jockeys and a couple of our sales reps in short pants. Remember those short basketball pants? We also had a number of “ringers” on the team. Guys who didn’t work at the station, but made our team more competitive. Especially when we played in the Madison City League. I was the player/coach, and at the beginning of one of the seasons, a team member asked me if a friend of his could be on the team, “His name is Bo Ryan, he’s an assistant coach at the UW.” Of course, we welcomed this newcomer and he turned out to be pretty good point guard.
But, why would Bo Ryan, an assistant coach at a major university, come and play for a rag-tag city league team? I believe it was because Bo Ryan has always loved basketball, and has loved to play the game as well as coach. Being on the WISM team gave him a chance to take a break from the stress of coaching, and have some fun playing in a real live basketball game. Bo loved to play the game, coach the game, live the game. He is one of the best college coaches ever. The UW and all of Wisconsin owe Bo a great amount of gratitude.
As a member of the WISM Wizard team Bo made every game he could, depending upon conflicts with the Badgers travel schedule. Little did we know what was to come of our part-time, feisty young point guard. Way to go, Bo. You’ve made everyone in Wisconsin proud. And, I’m proud to be able to say, with a wink, that “I coached Bo Ryan,” even though in the huddle I would always say, “Okay, Bo, what do we do now?”