Bo Ryan has finally accomplished something that eluded him throughout his decorated career: He has reached the Final Four. Upon doing so, the fiery Wisconsin basketball coach did something that college basketball fans rarely seem to see him do: He smiled.
Ryan, 66, hasn't exactly been known for his infectious smile over his 13 seasons in Madison. The Wisconsin basketball coach has made a name for himself with his teams' disciplined play and for his pyrotechnic reactions on the sideline. After his current Wisconsin squad earned him his first career trip to the Final Four by edging Arizona in an 64-63 overtime thriller on Saturday night, Ryan made the long-awaited climb up a ladder to cut down the net at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
"I'm extremely proud," Ryan said after the win. "It's always about the players and what they went through to get to this point and to be able to feel the way they do now. We hope it continues, but we also know how life can be."
The trip to the Final Four takes on added significance for Ryan as it comes in the first NCAA Tournament since the death of his father, Butch. The father and son had a longstanding tradition of attending the Final Four together dating back to 1976. Entering the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Ryan coached Wisconsin to the Sweet 16 on five occasions and once to the Elite Eight. Until the 2014 NCAA Tournament, he had only been a spectator at the Final Four.
"Today would have been my dad's 90th birthday," Ryan reminded reporters after his team's win over Arizona in the Elite Eight. "I just thought I'd throw that in."
Whether or not you're a fan of his Badgers, these euphoric images of Ryan cutting down the net as his players look on should bring a smile to your face: