MADISON - Although he admires him as an "intelligent young man," it appears "Russell Mania" never would have happened had Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan run the Wisconsin football team.
Why? Because Ryan is adamantly against the NCAA graduate transfer rule, calling it a “terrible rule” and “one of the worst rules I have ever seen,” that senior Russell Wilson and others have taken advantage of in college athletics.
“I never like the idea of people leaving a program after four years of development at that institution with teammates, with the school, and all of sudden change and be eligible to play right away,” Ryan said during his Monday news conference. “If you make a move, you sit. It’s about building a team, building trust and building what college athletics was meant to be (with) the experience.”
After taking advantage of the rule that allows graduated athletes to transfer to another school to finish their eligibility and enroll in an advanced degree program not provided at their former school, Wilson transferred from N.C. State over the summer and proceeded to break Wisconsin school records for single-season passing yards (3,175), touchdown passes (33), completions (225), pass efficiency rating (191.8 - min. 200 attempts) and yards of total offense (3,513), not to mention tying the school record 40 touchdowns responsible for and leading UW back to the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champions.
It’s a rule that’s been around since 2006 when Arizona State’s Kevin Kruger became the first college basketball player to use the rule to transfer to UNLV to play one season for his dad, Lon. Ryan was against it then and was especially against it when the seventh-seed Runnin' Rebels knocked second-seed Wisconsin out of the 2007 NCAA Tournament’s second round.
Ryan has been under the impression that this rule – which has been well publicized with Wilson in football and the controversy with St. Joe's blocking former player Todd O’Brien from playing at UAB by not releasing him from his scholarship despite graduating last spring – would open problems involving third parties trying to talk players into transferring.
“For example, if a guy was playing on a team with a bunch of seniors that had graduated,” said Ryan. “I look at Jordan Taylor. He would have been a heck of a free agent pick-up for somebody if say Jordan already had his degree and we lost as many players as we did with guys exhausting their eligibility. Maybe there’s a team out there that needed a point guard. Next year, maybe a team needs a big man.
“It’s created free agency and it’s creating conversations behind the backs of the institution, the coaches and his teammates.”
Ryan isn’t the only Big Ten coach against the rule, as Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Northwestern’s Bill Carmody and Illinois’ Bruce Weber all said they were against the rule during Monday’s Big Ten teleconference. Ironically, both Izzo and Weber have a player currently on their roster that benefited from the rule; a rule Ryan has brought up during past National Basketball Coaches Association board meetings with NCAA president Mark Emmert.
“I brought up the free agency that’s developing for graduate students,” Ryan said. “He said, ‘What are you talking about?’ I explained it to him and he looked at me like, ‘You got to be kidding me. There is a rule like that? Guys can play right away?’ He didn’t know. He was relatively new in the position, caught him off guard. I don’t think it’s a good idea at all.”
Although Ryan has brought in transfers (Sharif Chambliss) and players from junior college (Zach Morley) in his tenure, he said he would not bring in a player using the rule.
“We’ve been contacted about players,” said Ryan. “I tell my assistants that I have got absolutely no interest, but that’s just me … In some cases, I am sure it’s done for all the right reasons. I just think because it’s out there, people are going to use it in other ways.”
Breaking the Seal
After going 11 months without having a player named the conference player of the week, Wisconsin broke its drought when Taylor – who averaging 17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists in a pair of Badgers victories last week – earned his second career honor Monday.
Taylor was the catalyst as the Badgers topped Northwestern, 77-57, on Wednesday, and won at No. 22 Illinois, 67-63, on Sunday. The wins moved the squad to within a half game of first place in the Big Ten.
In the win over Northwestern, Taylor scored 9 of his 15 points during a momentum-turning 17-2 run early in the second half. He hit three 3-pointers in a 1:38 span and the Badgers turned a tight 38-36 contest into a 55-38 cushion in a spurt that lasted 4:35.
Taylor also added six assists and three rebounds in the win over the Wildcats.
Sunday, Taylor had a game-high 19 points and a season-high nine rebounds at Illinois. He also dished out five assists without a turnover and added one steal. Taylor scored seven points (5-for-6 at the free throw line) in the final 32 seconds to help put the game away. He has now scored in double figures in 11 straight games and 17 of the Badgers’ last 18.
Taylor was also the last Badger to earn Player of the Week honors, gaining recognition on Feb. 11, 2011, after he dropped a career-high 39 points against Thursday’s opponent, Indiana.
After averaging 12.2 points per game in the 14-game nonconference season, Taylor is averaging 17.1 points through eight Big Ten games.
“(Nothing changed), just him being a player,” said Ryan. “Sometimes your shot is going to be there, you are going to get more looks, other times there is more transition (opportunities). Every team plays a little bit differently. Teams have different makeups – taller, shorter, quicker – so each game is an entity to itself. But Jordan is always going to try to find a way to make the team successful and that’s the way all players should. Some just are just a little more effective than others.”
Ryan on Wilson
“Rob has had some opportunities to give us some good minutes. The more consistent players are with doing all the things that we ask, that’s how people get minutes. We get a guy on the floor, we’re not putting them out there and saying, ‘Go hide.’ We’re put guys to go out there and make something happen in a positive way.”
Ryan on Gasser’s improvements from last year
“(He’s) a little stronger, a little more determination on things because he’s surer on certain things. You go to the Sock Hop, I know in my sophomore year I asked more young ladies to dance then I did when I was a freshman. I was a little surer of myself, whether or not they thought so after the dance. He’s a sophomore and he’s been through some things. He has some scars mentally and physically and he’s learned things the hard way and learned things the right way.”
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