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The Ryan-Uthoff fiasco proves that we can make a difference

Apr 20, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Bo Ryan

Maybe Mike DeCourcy was right.

Maybe Bo Ryan’s plan all along was to try and scare Jarrod Uthoff into talking with him, into telling face-to-face why he decided to transfer before ever allowing Ryan to try and find a way to fit him into the Wisconsin system. Uthoff has a chance to be a very good player, and Ryan dedicated quite a bit of time — and, potentially, cost himself a chance at recruiting a different player — convincing the 6-foot-8 forward to become a Badger.

Maybe this was simply a scare tactic to he was using to get answers before eventually giving Uthoff the freedom to transfer anywhere outside of the Big Ten.

But it’s just as likely that Ryan, in the face of a tidal wave of criticism hitting him from every angle over the course of the week, simply relented. He realized he was fighting a losing battle. He realized that by restricting Uthoff from transferring to 26 schools he was doing irreparable harm to his program’s public image. Maybe he even realized that what he was doing may have been acceptable by the rulebook but was a completely unfair abuse of power that looked like nothing more than a bitter, petty temper tantrum.

And, frankly, everything you read in that last paragraph is a good thing.

It means that we won. Twitter won. The internet won.

The one thing that is inarguable in the DeCourcy column linked above is that Bo Ryan is not a tyrant. He runs a very respectable program that wins with kids that a) generally do just as well in the classroom, b) aren’t typically elite recruits, and c) spend at least four years in a Wisconsin uniform. According to DeCourcy, Uthoff is only the second player to transfer out of Wisconsin in Ryan’s tenure, and that player wasn’t forced out.

In a moment of anger and frustration at losing a player he was going to be dependent on in the future, Ryan — a guy without much experience dealing with transfers — threw seemingly every school that Wisconsin could potentially play in the next few years on a restricted list.

The reaction had such venom and such power behind it that Ryan was forced to reverse course.

This proves that we have a voice, the same way that the outcry against expanding to a 96 team NCAA tournament proved that we have a voice. The push back against not playing players resulted in a proposal to give athletes an extra $2,000. The proposal was shot down, but it was a step in the right direction, the same way that the condemnation of the BCS slowly pushing college football closer to a playoff is a step in the right direction.

If anything, what these last three days proves is that our voice — writers, bloggers, columnists, fans, the twitterati — matters.

If we air our grievances, changes get made.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

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