Greg Gard's audition begins now.
Most people close to Bo Ryan knew it would end this way: either immediately after a game or just before the start of the season -- when it would be too late to find someone else. Ryan was unable to convince Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez to hand the permanent gig to Gard, Ryan's his longtime assistant, this past summer. So this was the only way for Ryan to leave his post and make sure Gard got a chance at it.
Gard will get 19 regular-season games, 18 of them coming in Big Ten play, followed by a conference tournament and then some sort of postseason.
This is a team that stumbled out of the gate. You don't lose a pair of first-rounders (Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker) and a third who is playing in the NBA (Duje Dukan) -- plus Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson -- without taking a major step back. The Badgers are 7-5, with three of the five setbacks coming at the Kohl Center, which has been one of the most difficult places to win over the last 15 years. Two of the losses were at the hands of Western Illinois and Milwaukee.
Gard is a well-respected assistant coach. Talk to anyone in the industry and they'll rave about his character, preparation and ability to connect with players.