Bo Ryan made it clear this week he wants to see Greg Gard take over the University of Wisconsin men's basketball program in 2016. As both men hit the road for recruiting visits this month, the wait now begins to see if the request will follow through.
Gard, the longtime assistant to Ryan at three different schools for more than 20 years, has a resume worthy of a head coach, but is it be enough to land him the job at Wisconsin? Ryan thinks it will.
"It was a big challenge for him to be able to stay as long as he has and have the opportunity to be the next coach," Ryan said. "Why not? It happens in every other profession out there. So it's not even something that's debatable right now, it's something that, 'OK, let's see what happens.'"
Gard has followed Ryan from UW-Platteville to UW-Milwaukee and then to UW-Madison over the course of his 22 years of collegiate coaching. He became the Badgers associate head coach in 2008.
"I think I've been very transparent and numbers speak for themselves in terms of where I've been and what we've been able to accomplish," Gard said. "I think the biggest thing is I've always tried to do the best given the situation we're in, try to make the most of everything we have, and really not get caught up in what the future's going to hold."
An ultimate decision will be made by Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez. He said earlier this week Gard will have the opportunity to interview for the position but the search will be expanded to serve everyone's best interest.
Whoever ends up coaching in 2016 shouldn't be an issue according to Ryan, since the idea all along has been to sell the school, not the man leading the team.
"If you like Wisconsin, then you're going to like this coaching staff and you're going to like what we do here no matter who's here," Ryan said. "We want people to come to Wisconsin for Wisconsin. I've never said to anybody at any time the reason that young man came here was only because of me."
Gard has to live by those words as he tries to fill the shoes of the man who has developed the Badgers into a consistently successful program, capped by a second straight Final Four appearance and school record 36 wins during the 2014-15 season.
"Obviously the biggest thing I think is you have to be yourself," Gard said. "There's only one Bo Ryan and whoever the next coach is here, it won't be Bo Ryan and it shouldn't be someone who tries to imitate him. I think obviously I've taken methods, ideas, ideology, philosophies from him, but at the same time you have to be comfortable being who you are and coach to your own personality."