In Defense of Bo Ryan

by Brandon Rifkin

“Bo Ryan is the most evil person on the planet.  I can’t believe he’s limiting the freedoms of a child!  The days of indentured servitude are over everywhere except the University of Wisconsin basketball program!”

-Everyone in the world

I have a hard time remembering something so insignificant turning into a menacing monster like the Uthoff Transfer Story.  It’s just BAFFLING. Let’s recap:

-Nothing Bo did was out of the ordinary.

-This happens so rarely at Wisconsin that Bo had to consult with other coaches just to see what the SOP is.

-Wisconsin has consistently been one of the cleanest programs in the country under Bo – recruits are never run off if they don’t pan out, failed drug tests aren’t covered up, illegal recruiting doesn’t happen.

-Before the process could even play out, the ENTIRE country had made up its mind.

I really don’t get it.  It’s not like Wisconsin made up the process as it went along – these things happen in a certain way along a certain timeline.  Is it really so ridiculous that Bo wanted to meet face-to-face with Uthoff before he left the program? Bo (and UW) invested countless hours and dollars recruiting, training, developing, feeding, transporting and housing Uthoff.  He never gave even the slightest scent of unhappiness. Then in the five days of the year that Bo is unavailable to his team he decides to transfer and has to immediately?  And Bo is the one being unreasonable here?

So instead of talking to Bo man-to-man, Uthoff went to his home state’s media.  He played the innocent ‘I have no idea why this is happening’ card.  And the country ate it up. Analysts from CBS to ESPN and everywhere in between laid into Bo for being a hypocrite/petty jerk/jackass – all of this despite never hearing from the UW hoops program or Bo himself. 19-year old kid in the middle of a huge, emotional decision vs. 64 year old coach that’s never broken a promise to a recruit… It’s somehow even crazier just typing it out.

But finally, Bo spoke up.  In a heated interview with Mike & Mike, Bo emphasized that there’s a process here, and all he’s doing is following that process.  Mike & Mike held nothing back, grilling Ryan on why they wouldn’t just release him wherever he wanted to go.  Bo held his ground and simply acknowledged that there’s a process they have to follow. Could he have released Uthoff right away?  Absolutely. But Bo wanted to hear it from the kid himself before he sent him on his way. Why is that so egregious? No window of opportunity for Uthoff closed in the time between his initial request to transfer and today. No school shied away. No opportunity was lost.

The end result was something both Bo and Uthoff have wanted all along: Bo listened to Uthoff explain why he wanted to leave the program that invested and believed in him so greatly, Uthoff can go anywhere outside the Big Ten.  End of the story, right?

Nope. Now, the media members that ripped Bo the whole time are taking credit for this. As Bo has maintained since the beginning: there was a process to follow. That process included Uthoff appealing and then appearing before the head honchos of the UW Athletic Department. That meeting was scheduled before Bo’s appearance on Mike & Mike.  That meeting was going to happen regardless of Twitter’s hate brigade. Sure, maybe it sped it up a bit, but to act like Twitter ‘freed’ Jarrod Uthoff is just comical.  Just don’t tell the Darren Rovells of the world.  They’re far too busy patting themselves on the back for saving the day.

Brandon Rifkin writes Badger Preview, a weekly in-season Wisconsin Basketball and Football blog. Follow his Tumblr + Twitter.

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2 Responses to In Defense of Bo Ryan

  1. Brian scheiber says:

    I am a little confused by your logic. “all Bo wanted to hear is hear it from the kid himself”. But emphasized many times that Bo isn’t part of the appeals process. That is an administration hearing. So how did Bo hear it from UT off, and how did Bo then release the restrictions. So either Bo had nothing to do with the releasing of restrictions or he was lying on mike and mike. Either way your whole article is illogical

  2. Locke says:

    Huh? He wanted to talk to him face to face & hear it from him why he wanted to leave. Uthoff wouldn’t – which Bo basically said, OK fine, you don’t want to talk to me about it, but you’re going to talk to somebody in the administration then. Uthoff even tried to duck that by having someone else turn in his appeal.

    Talk about illogical – why would you think Bo had nothing to do with the release? Kid talked to Doherty & Alvarez, & then they talked to Bo.

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