When you think about the Wisconsin basketball program, you think of William Francis (Bo) Ryan. Period.
Bo Ryan is objectively one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history, yet his name is noticeably absent from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
I’ve tried to make sense of this, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t come up with a logical explanation.
This omission is a travesty that needs immediate correction. In this article, I’m making it my personal mission to make the case for Coach Ryan’s induction, who finished his career with a 747–233 record, by comparing his resume to other coaches who have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Bo Ryan Has a Hall of Fame Resume
Bo Ryan began his coaching career in 1984 at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. In 15 seasons at Platteville, Ryan won four NCAA Division III national championships (1991, 1995, 1998, 1999) and amassed a record of 353-76. That’s an 82% winning percentage for those wanting to perform the mental gymnastics it would take to discredit this feat somehow.
In 2001, former Badgers Athletic Director Pat Ritcher made the brilliant decision to hire Bo as the head coach of the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball program.
That decision was worth its weight in gold, considering he won four Big Ten Coach of the Year awards (2002, 2003, 2013, 2015) and one Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award in 2008.
In 14 seasons at Wisconsin, Ryan won four Big Ten regular-season championships and three Big Ten tournament championships. He also never finished lower than fourth in the Big Ten standings (no other B1G coach has ever done this) and made the big dance in all 14 seasons, reaching the Sweet 16 seven times.
In addition, Bo Ryan led Wisconsin basketball to back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2014 and 2015, finishing as the runner-up in the national title in 2015.
— National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (@CBHOF) November 20, 2017
Not too shabby, eh?
How Bo Ryan Stacks up Against Other Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Coaches
Now that we’ve established the ostentatious list of Bo Ryan’s accomplishments as a head coach let us compare his resume to other coaches who have been inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
First, let’s look at John Chaney, who was inducted in 2001. Chaney coached at Cheyney State (D2) for 10 seasons and won a national title. Then he took over at Temple University from 1982 to 2006, winning six Atlantic 10 Tournament championships and five Atlantic 10 regular-season championships. Chaney also led Temple to the Elite Eight five times and was named National Coach of the Year in 1988.
Next, look at Ralph Miller, who made the HOF in 1988 after finishing his career with a record of 657-382 in 38 seasons split between Wichita State, Iowa, and Oregon State. He reached the Elite Eight twice.
Finally, there is Ray Meyer, who made the HOF in 1979. Meyer led Depaul to a 724-354 record in 42 seasons, reaching the Final Four twice.
All great careers, but as you can see, Bo Ryan’s resume compares favorably to the coaches mentioned above who are already in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Just something to chew on.
Furthermore, Bo Ryan’s coaching style has had a lasting impact on the game of basketball. He is known as the innovator of the “swing offense,” emphasizing ball movement, versatility, and player motion to create scoring opportunities. Many other college and high school teams have adopted his offense, and the principles of his system have become a staple of modern basketball.
“Be really good every day at all the things that don’t take talent,” – Bo Ryan.
In conclusion, Coach Ryan deserves to be in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame—point blank, period.
He has four national championships at the division three level under his belt (even though they don’t seem to garner a ton of respect), and we know damn well this isn’t even a discussion if Wisconsin basketball beats Duke in the 2015 national title game.
One game should not have that type of bearing on a legendary coach’s Hall of Fame consideration, so what exactly are we talking about here?
It is a travesty that he has not yet been inducted, and we hope that the Hall of Fame committee corrects this oversight soon.
Bo Ryan is Hall of Fame in my book.
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