In a surprise announcement on Tuesday night, Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan announced that he would be retiring, effective immediately. Assistant coach Greg Gard was named the interim head coach and will finish the season as the top man in Madison.
Badgers fans expect the next three months to serve as an audition of sorts for Gard. While UW is mired in a down season, if Gard can get them to the tournament the full-time job will likely be his.
Of course in Charlottesville, we hear "Wisconsin job open" and think "No no no no no no no no no no no."
With Tony Bennett's long ties to the state, Hoos fans have always fretted that the Wisconsin job may be the only one that could pull the uber-successful coach away from Virginia. After all, he was born and raised there and coached (with Bo Ryan) under his father, Dick.
For those starting to track flights from Madison to Charlottesville, this David Teel article from July is mandatory reading.
Yes, Bennett hails from Wisconsin, and his parents still reside there. And yes, the home-state Badgers, reveling in back-to-back Final Fours, certainly could afford to pay him significantly more than this latest Virginia contract.
But unlike many of his peers, Bennett doesn't swoon over dollar signs. If he did, he'd have bolted Charlottesville already - only the delusional don't believe he's had the opportunity.
Teel details the intangibles that Bennett has spoken so highly of during his tenure as Virginia's head coach. But he also recites some of the brass tacks of Bennett's new contract, including this:
The 20-page document calls for annual 5-percent salary increases and retention bonuses of $1 million after the 2019 season and $400,000 two years later. As telling, Bennett agreed to more than doubling his buyout, from $1.4 million to $3 million, should he resign before March 15, 2018 - the buyout decreases to $1 million thereafter with incremental dips of $250,000.
We'll keep a close eye on how things progress in Madison. But for now, Hoos fans shouldn't fret too much about Bennett leaving for colder climes.