Bo Ryan shocked the basketball world Tuesday night, announcing his retirement after coaching Wisconsin to a 64-49 win over Texas A&M-CC.
Ryan, who turns 68 on Sunday, was one of the most successful coaches of his era. He led the Badgers to 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances – the fourth-longest streak in America – and helped Wisconsin to the Final Four in each of the last two years.
And now his career is over.
This is fairly stunning, no?
“Well, I think it was a little of a surprise,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Bo had come out and said this was going to be his last year and then there was some hesitancy, some undecidedness there whether he was really going to do it. I think knowing Bo a little bit, I think he felt like his staff was ready and he felt like this may be the best chance to let his assistant (Greg Gard) take over as a head coach and show the administration that he can do it. Somebody could say that would be selfish, but I think Bo was trying to do what’s best for the program, and he sincerely thinks that his assistant taking over would be the best thing for the program and is trying to makes sure that that happens. You’re not at a place (that long) unless you’re in love with the place and want what’s best for the program. It’s a little bit of a surprise, but the more I think about it, maybe that had something to do with it. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Bo, so it’s all surely just guessing on my part.”
Williams, 65, had two knee surgeries this summer. He was asked if Ryan’s retirement has made him think about his own coaching mortality.
“Not really,” Williams said. “I think right now, my knees just don’t feel good. That’s the biggest part. But you’re right. Larry Fedora, our football coach – who just did a great job, we had a great year this year – he came to watch practice a couple of weeks ago, and he said, ‘God almighty, Roy works his tail off. I just walk around at our practice and watch the assistants do all the work.’ But I am involved. Coaches are involved. It is more difficult. I went 42 years in coaching and never set down on the court one time in 42 years. This year, I sit down periodically. I asked Marcus Paige, ‘Does that bother you guys?’ He said, ‘Well, coach, you only stay down for 15 seconds and you’re back up again.’ So I’m hoping it’ll stay that way.”
Williams has coached North Carolina since 2003 and led the Tar Heels to two national championships. This year, UNC is 7-2 and ranked No. 11 in the country.
“I think all of us, when you get to a certain age, you start thinking about (retiring) a little bit,” Williams said. “But I love (coaching) so much. Now, I didn’t enjoy the last one-tenth of a second at Texas last Saturday. There’s no question about that. You don’t enjoy some things, but I love working with the kids and I love going to practice every day. I love trying to put a team together. It’s what I think I was intended to do. I’ve said many times I can go six to 10 more years, but I was saying that two years ago, so maybe I should say four to eight right now. But it does not make me think of (retirement) right now because I am enjoying this team. We’ve got a team of great youngsters. I enjoy what I’m doing. Every day when I get up, I live for that two to two-and-a-half hours that I can be on the court that afternoon with my players.”