BY MIKE LUCAS
UWBadgers.com Senior Writer
MADISON, Wis. — On Wednesday, Bo Ryan was competing, he was playing golf, like he does most days. Last week, he played six consecutive days. This week, he's scheduled to play five out of seven days. This is what retirement looks like for someone who won 747 games over 32 seasons as a college head coach.
"If I was sitting at home, I'd be going crazy," said the 69-year-old Ryan. "My release is to get out on the golf course, get outdoors, compete, get into the game. The juices in people like myself, or anyone else who has coached, just don't go away; they're always pumping over competition and what's next.
"Golf is a competitive game and you can lose yourself in the game. That's what I do … I lose myself in the game. So, I get done playing today (Wednesday) and I turn on my phone and oh, my God, there are all these messages."
There was a pause on the other end of the line from Palm Springs, California.
"I'm thinking, "What the hell happened?"
Another pause and a sigh.
"I guess they released the Hall of Fame list."
Ryan was not downplaying the moment or the significance of the achievement. On the contrary. He admitted to having a "tear in my eye" upon learning of his selection to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. His first thought was that Butch and Louise Ryan would have been so proud.
"I just wish my folks were still here," he said softly. "This is pretty special."
For years, he has told his wife Kelly that if he was ever fortunate enough to be considered someday for induction to another Hall of Fame, this one would be very meaningful. "Because," he said, "it's the COLLEGE Hall of Fame, the one that all of us college guys think the most of."
Ryan is already a member of five Hall of Fames (Wilkes College, Delaware County, Pennsylvania Sports, Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association and WIAC). He's also one of 14 finalists for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame which will announce its class on April 3 before the NCAA title game.
"That one in Springfield (Massachusetts)," he said of the Naismith HOF, "is fantastic."
Meanwhile, the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame's singular objective is to honor excellence in the college game. That's why Ryan is so honored — "I'm really tickled pink" — to be carrying the banner for the state of Wisconsin and basketball at UW-Platteville, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison.
"We coached in the southwest, southeast and central part of the state and had what we felt was an impact," said Ryan, who won four Division III national titles at Platteville and made two trips to the Final Four with the Badgers. "It's me representing three different colleges. That's a nice feeling."
As the only coach in the Class of 2017, Ryan realizes that he's in fast company.
"I looked at that list," he said, "and thought, 'Oh, my goodness, I'm going to get autographs.'"