Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2 more hits to the Wisconsin we once knew

Now we have two more reasons this state feels like it's in decline. The first happened after I flipped off Big Ten Network last night after watching UW hoops plug its way to a non-conference win. I woke up, and found out that Bucky now has a new men's basketball coach, after Bo Ryan quit following the game, handing over the job to longtime top assistant Greg Gard.

Obviously, the suddenness of Bo's retirement is a bit shocking, but the resignation itself isn't- Bo had indicated he was going to step down at the end of the year, and doing so in the season makes it more likely Gard has a chance to keep the Badger hoops job for 2016-'17 and beyond. The tributes from Bo's former players and other associates are pouring in, including arguably the best player Bo has ever coached- last year's college Player of the Year, Frank Kaminsky. Frank the Tank wrote a column this afternoon in the Victory Lap Blog with his thoughts on Bo's retirement, and the lessons Coach Ryan taught. Kaminsky says he was often frustrated with his lack of playing time his first two years in Madison, but said it drove him to work harder, and now realizes the intelligence of Ryan's designs for him.
Looking back on it, I know now that Coach Ryan knew what I was capable of becoming. I see so many different instances now that were signals of him understanding what he had in me. One time in particular was during a summer practice before my junior year. He pulled me aside and asked, “You wouldn’t leave this school early, would you?” I didn’t think anything of it at the time, and I’m not sure if he would even recall that, but it stuck out to me because I hadn’t even played a truly meaningful minute of basketball for Wisconsin at that point. I said I wouldn’t, and I meant it when I had the opportunity to leave Wisconsin a year early. It was even more evident when he told me after my junior year that if I stayed and worked hard that summer our team would take the program to a whole different level, and that I would be in consideration for National Player of the Year. He was right again.

The most important thing that Bo ever passed on to me were the lessons I learned through the game of basketball. He taught me how to work with and rely on other people when things weren’t going my way. He taught me the concept of moving on and not letting one bad thing spiral into many bad things. He taught me what it takes to achieve what I want. He taught me to be great at all the things that don’t take any skill. The fire and passion that everyone saw on the sidelines during the games was permanent in his personality. It was evident in every practice, shoot around, film session, and scouting report. He passed that approach to basketball on to me and countless other players.

Without Bo taking a chance on that tall white kid from suburban Illinois, I wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to attend the best University in the country. I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends. I wouldn’t have gone to back-to-back Final Fours. The whole complexion of my life would be completely different. I can’t imagine taking an alternate path to get to where I am right now. If not for Coach Ryan, I don’t know where I would be, but I can assure you this: It would not be any better. He took in an immature kid that very few people wanted, and in nothing short of a modern miracle, turned him into a man ready to face the future. It is impossible to count the number of people who have a story to tell about Coach Ryan. I’m only capable of telling my own, but right now I’m sure I speak for everyone. Thank you, Bo.
(quick sidelight, I notice that Frank has frequently referenced being white. Almost like he feels people overlooked him due to his skin color, and it drove him to kick people's ass even more).

Notice that Bo was consistently tough, accountable, and ethical throughout his 40 years of coaching at the college level. That seems important to bring up in light of the other damaging event to the state that happened today.
Gov. Scott Walker has cemented key changes in time for the 2016 political campaign, signing into law bills giving campaign finance law its biggest makeover in decades and dismantling and replacing Wisconsin's oversight board for elections and elected officials.

Walker's signature of the two bills, announced in a press release, was conducted in private Wednesday. It was widely expected after the bills passed the Legislature last month on votes that largely mirrored party lines.

The campaign finance measure dials back restrictions on money flowing into state political campaigns, some of which had been struck down by court rulings.
In other words, it slants the playing field of elections toward the rich and well-connected, while hiding politicians from independent accountability, and their donors from having the public find out about the influence they are attempting to buy.

The method of Scott Walker's standard operating procedure couldn't be more different than the way Bo Ryan handled things as the guy in charge. Instead of doing things the right way, like Bo has done, Walker has a lot more of John Calipari-style crookedness and duplicity. Except unlike Calipari, Walker doesn't even make things better off for the program he is heading- Wisconsin's economy has consistently lagged the rest of the country, and the quality of life has declined. Which makes Walker a lot more like flailing Indiana coach Tom Crean, not acheiving anything close to the lasting greatness that Bo has, and unlike what Bo did for the UW basketball program, Walker will not leave the state in a better place than when he got here.


  1. Replies
    1. Aww, poor baby. You know you can't defend your boy's crookedness, incompetence and failures. But you're needy enough to troll websites trying to sound interesting. How pathetic.

      Bo wouldn't cheat and sell out to reach the top, and Bo wouldn't accept 37th in the nation regardless of the circumstances. So why do you accept it from Walker? Enlighten us, Bagger Boy!