I heard a mild criticism this week of Bo Ryan, meant to separate him from the other three bejeweled Final Four coaches. Colin Cowherd asked: “but how many national championships has he won?”
The answer is four.
That Ryan won four national titles in a nine year span, should need little defending. Sure, it was against Division-III competition, but–spoiler alert–his teams were *also* comprised of D-III players.
Is it perceived to be harder to win at Division-I level because D-I teams are better than D-III teams? They are. But the degree of difficulty in winning a race against a Porsche is directly tied to what kind of car you get to drive.
The car Bo Ryan stepped into is Wisconsin. It’s a family four door sedan, that’s never shared the showroom with the Dukes and Kentuckys. For rich hoops history, you’d more likely look to in-state Marquette.
In his fourteen years, the Badgers have danced 14 times.
Here’s something he’s never done: finished outside the top four in Big Ten play.
Only one conference coach has reached 100 wins faster than him–guy by the name of Knight.
Wouldn’t D-III say more about one’s pure coaching ability, as the recruiting landscape is so different? Calipari & Coach K are more than capable of being successful at the non-scholarship level. But it doesn’t get easier when you have to race in the same kind of car.
The highest ranking any of Ryan’s last 6 recruiting classes has received is 45th. USA Today reported that UW’s recruiting budget is less than Youngstown State, Kent State, and Middle Tennessee State. Frank Kaminsky was a 3-star recruit with a half-dozen offers from the likes of Northern Illinois, and Southern Illinois. Nigel Hayes, Josh Gasser, Ben Brust–all three star recruits or less, with Final Four starts on their resumes. Traevon Jackson wasn’t offered by dad’s Buckeyes, but he’s beaten them. He spurned Cleveland State and Akron to be a Badger.
None of these guys were fast cars. Were.
If he wins a championship Monday, then our increasingly unimpressed culture will probably ask why Bo doesn’t have two.
Because he’d have five.