MADISON, Wis. (NBC 26) — It's been nearly six years since Bo Ryan abruptly retired. Now, the legendary Badgers coach will make his return to the Kohl Center Friday night.
The timing couldn't be better. His son Will, UW-Green Bay's head coach, will be in Madison with the Phoenix to take on the Badgers.
"It's going be a special night for my dad and my family," Ryan said. "Our ticket list is a mile long with family and friends so I'm excited because I have so many fond memories of the Kohl Center and the great teams we had.
"That my dad had," he corrected himself.
Greg Gard was a part of that ride as well. The long-time assistant turned head coach said he had to do some convincing to get Bo to stay in Wisconsin, rather than head west to his winter home in Palm Springs.
"He was giving me all these reasons when he was coming back and all that," Gard joked. "I said 'Coach you've gotta stay until the Green Bay game and be able to watch Will's team in person.' And obviously ours (too)."
Gard was Ryan's assistant for 22 years, going back to their days at UW-Platteville.
"So many fond memories and so many learning experiences," Gard reflected. "I'm not sitting here today if it's not for Bo. I'm not in college coaching if it's not for Bo.
"Obviously I owe him a huge debt of gratitude as do many."
His son is among that group. And despite hid dad's decades of success at Wisconsin, Will does have one request: Wear the right colors.
"If he's wearing red and white tomorrow then I might disown him, I'm not sure," Ryan laughed. "He better be neutral or maybe he's got some green on underneath."
"We'll get some Christmas colors in there."
The game tips off at 7:00 p.m. on BTN+, Big Ten Network's online streaming service. It will be the 26th all-time meeting between Green Bay and Wisconsin. The Badgers lead the series 24-1.