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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Badger fans can't have it both ways with Bo Ryan


Badger fans can't have it both ways with Bo Ryan

Let us call this a duplicity of logic.

On the one hand there was outcry when Wisconsin debuted the season as the 7th-9th best team in the conference, at least according to most projections. Many asked how Bo Ryan's teams could ever be doubted after his track record of consistently finishing in the top four of the conference.

On the other hand we get the cries five months later, and usually in the same high-pitched whine, that Bo is yet again not getting the credit he deserves after finishing behind Ohio State head coach Thad Matta and Purdue head man Matt Painter for the Big Ten Coach of the Year award.

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The reason he was robbed? Well, he took a team projected to finish so low to fourth place and 23 wins.

People, this can't go both ways.

Either the team was not that good to begin with and Bo's coaching lifted it to heights, or they were that good and the coaching job was just in line with what he usually does.

I should note: The main reason Ryan should have gotten the award was adjusting on the fly and going 6-3 without Jon Leuer. Sadly, not enough people are citing this as a reason for him to get the award.

At the end of all this, one must ask if there is any value in this award at all. It either goes to the coaches of the top teams, or someone who made a middling squad better than they should have been.

In the first case, the award tells us what we already know—that teams like OSU and Purdue were good, something you could figure out by looking at the standings. In the second, the award goes to someone who does not make good teams great, but usually someone who surprises and lifts up unimpressive teams for a short stretch.

Looking over it all, the league coach of the year award just doesn't deserve this much discord and protest.

A bit misunderstood

The final AP poll was released earlier this week and only 10 of the 25 teams that debuted in the opening poll survived to the final one.

This kind of thing has become a rallying cry for fans against the reporters who cover the sport. There is some joy in pointing out how wrong the ""so-called experts"" can be, as they hit only 40 percent of the projected final poll.

The only problem: preseason polls are not a projection of anything.

Much like the SAT only measures how well people can do on the SAT (long ago it was known as the standard aptitude test before people realized it did not test aptitude), it's not exactly clear what these polls measure.

The way they come together just takes last year's results, drops teams based on early departures and graduates, bumps them up for returning starters and good incoming recruits and, when in doubt, gives big name teams a bump. That's it.

The polls tell us that and nothing more. These writers don't project how everyone will finish, they don't go through the schedule and decide which games each team will lose or win, they just don't.

And they really shouldn't.

It would be really easy for reporters to pick final polls if they didn't have to account for, oh I don't know... five months of basketball and all the random events that take place in that span. We're talking thousands of games, over 300 teams, injuries, coaching issues, players that surprise and players that disappoint.

No amount of preseason reporting can prepare someone for all of those events, especially in terms of picking 25 teams that will be the best in both November and March.

Furthermore, even if every writer voted for the few teams they felt would buck the standard preseason formula, those outliers would be wiped away because the poll is an aggregation of opinion.

65 writers vote and, because of that, the final poll will represent the most general of consensus. The teams ranked will always be the safest picks because each one is the most agreed upon. The system almost assures this will happen, and as such, it will always go the same way.

Writers vote, polls come out, people complain. It's not an ideal formula, but that's the way it works.

Any thoughts about  Ryan or preseason polls? E-mail Ben at

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