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This Bo Knows Basketball
Rick Reilly
January 29, 2007
IN THE next 800 words, you're going to meet my new favorite coach. But first you have to guess who he is.
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January 29, 2007

This Bo Knows Basketball

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But that's not why he's my new favorite.

This is a guy who hasn't just paid his dues, he's paid the whole neighborhood's. He didn't get his chance in the big time until he was 53, gold-watch time for a lot of guys. Before Wisconsin hired him in 2001, Ryan spent a year as an assistant at College of Racine ( Wis.), eight years as a Badgers assistant, 15 at Division III Wisconsin-Platteville—where he won four national championships—and two at Wisconsin- Milwaukee. If there were a Wisconsin-Curdville, he'd have coached there.

The man's been passed by more often than an I-80 rest stop. Wisconsin passed over him for guys like Stu Jackson and Stan Van Gundy—who went on to win a combined 41% of their Big Ten games. All Ryan has done is win 71%. In the 63 years BB (Before Bo), Wisconsin went to the NCAAs seven times. AB? Five, with number six coming up.

This guy is loyal. In 1974 he coached the baseball team at bankrupt Racine for free because he didn't want to bail on his players. And it wasn't like he could afford it. At Platteville he was once so poor, he just missed qualifying for a free-lunch program for his five kids.

He's honest, too—never been rung up by the NCAA. He's a guy who can work a hall full of boosters like a Roomba. And twice as cleanly.

But that's not why Bo Ryan is my new favorite.

He's my new favorite because he has hammered out the sweetest setup in husband history. His wife of 32 years, Kelly (the one he talked out of marrying someone else), has agreed to a deal. Bo has to do no dishes, no cooking, no mowing, no cleaning, no vacuuming, no lightbulb-changing, no spider killing—nothing, "except win basketball games," she says. "As long as he keeps winning basketball games, he doesn't have to do anything around the house."

O.K., pushing around prisoners is one thing, but wives? Now that's impressive.

TALK BACK If you have a comment for Rick Reilly, send it to reilly@siletters.com.

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