HOW TO COACH YOUR WAY INTO A HEAD COACHING JOB… AND SO MUCH MORE!

Greg Gard started the season as the Associate Head Coach of the Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Team. Even in his wildest dreams, Gard could never have imagined that before the season was over he would not have that title or the one which replaced it. On December 15, the world of Wisconsin Basketball, in general, and Gard, in particular, changed dramatically when longtime Badger Coach Bo Ryan announced his retirement, just 12 games into the 2015-16 season.   Gard was immediately named Interim Head Coach by Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez. No promises or guarantees were given to Gard other than he would finish the current season with the Badgers. As was reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Gard inherited what was described as a “mess” by an observer familiar with the program. Wisconsin was only 7-5 and had already lost three home games – the season opener to a bad Western Illinois team, and then in the span of a few days two close losses to in-state rivals Milwaukee and Marquette. In Gard’s first game, the Badgers almost blew a 30 point lead against Wisconsin-Green Bay before holding on for a victory at the Kohl Center.   The Big Ten season didn’t start much better for Gard as the Badgers lost four of their first five Conference games. The team finally hit bottom when it lost at Northwestern on January 12. It was looking more and more like Gard would, indeed, only be the Interim Coach.   And then something incredible happened. Gard was able to hold the team together; change its offense back to “The Swing”; give significant minutes... read more

“Defining a Culture of Wealth Creation”

“A local group in Madison wants to help area young people plan for a future of financial independence. Prosquared works to teach students the importance of building personal wealth and making worthwhile investments for the benefit of the communities in which they live. Addressing, in particular, the interests of minority student athletes, this networking organization…” Continue Reading   By James Edward Mills... read more

MARCH COULD BRING THREE MAJOR UW COACHING DECISIONS

The month of March could be a very busy (and critical ) time for the University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez. He may have three major decisions to make regarding the head coaching positions for UW Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Hockey. All three of those sports play their home games at the Kohl Center and are among the most high profile programs in the UW Athletic Department. It’s possible both basketball teams and the men’s hockey teams will have new coaches next season, which most likely would be a first at Wisconsin. One way or another, men’s basketball will have a new coach following the surprise retirement of Bo Ryan on December 15. The question is whether the “Interim” tag will be taken off of Greg Gard’s title or if Alvarez decides to, as they say. move in another direction. Wisconsin’s recent wins over nationally ranked Michigan State and Indiana should help Gard, who has a 7-4 record since replacing Ryan. From my perspective, Gard more than held his own in Wisconsin’s wins against Tom Izzo of Michigan State, Tom Crean of Indiana and Thad Motta of Ohio State. The Badgers are currently on a five game winning streak. Men’s hockey and women’s basketball could be even more interesting since neither coach is “interim,” but both programs have struggled in recent years. Attendance for both at the Kohl Center has dropped significantly. That is a bigger problem for men’s hockey because after football and men’s basketball, it is the third largest revenue raiser for the Athletic Department. Neither of the contracts of hockey coach Mike Eaves... read more

Lebron James’ world’s most prominent male athlete

Ever since he burst into the national spotlight as a high school star playing for St. Vincent’s in Cleveland, Lebron James has been simultaneously the epitome of the 21st century Black pro athlete and a lightning rod for criticism. Now in his early 30s, he’s unquestionably the NBA’s biggest star, though some would also deem him its most polarizing figure. But James’ exploits are certainly the stuff of legend. He’s won four Most Valuable Player Awards, been on two championship teams (two time Finals MVP) and is a multiple All-League, All-Star, All-Defensive staple. The detractors who cite his four losses in championship series often neglect to point out that in most cases his team wasn’t the superior one, and fact that in several defeats he was easily the best player on either club. Still, it can legitimately be argued that Lebron James’ importance aside from basketball far transcends his court achievements. Indeed it would be hard (though there are some folks out there willing to try) not to applaud the image James has off the court, and the many things he’s done to maintain ties with both the core Black communities of Akron and Cleveland, as well as the larger African-American nation. First, James has maintained ties his entire professional career with childhood friends, and his representation is solidly Black rather than a large white multi-national company. He’s married to his high school sweetheart. As upsetting as his decision was to leave his native Cleveland for four years to play in Miami, the return is responsible for two more years of constant sellouts in downtown Cleveland. His presence has... read more

New NCAA rules address fundamental concerns, contradictions

There’s always been a fundamental disconnect between the National Football League, National Basketball Association and the NCAA. The primary problem has been and remains that while the so-called power conferences function as de facto minor leagues for the NFL and NBA, that has never really been what they were designed to do. Ideally, college sports were created to provide extra-curricular activities for students. For the vast majority of its participants that remains the reality. But for the one percent gifted enough to make it to the pros, things are quite different. This select group is being groomed to ultimately be the best in their profession. But that goal may or may not coincide with the objectives of a college football or basketball coach, and it is definitely not part of the overall mission of an educational institution except in the broadest sense of defining the college experience. Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League have their own farm systems that exist solely to develop talent. But NCAA athletes are supposed to be students, and their education is deemed their primary goal. Framed against that is the fact college coaches are judged on wins and losses, and the top schools earn millions of dollars based on how well they perform in various conferences, and ultimately the college football playoffs and NCAA basketball tournament. This is a situation with no easy answer. While there have been and continue to be cases of schools exploiting its athletes (see the recent academic scandal at North Carolina for one prime example) the vast majority of schools take both their academic and athletic missions... read more

MONEY TALKS AND COACHES WALK!

The departure of Wisconsin Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda speaks volumes about the current state of college football.   It seemed like just hours after the Badgers had played maybe their best game of the season, defeating favored USC in the Holiday Bowl, 23-21, it was announced that Aranda was leaving to become Defensive Coordinator at LSU. During three seasons at Wisconsin, under Aranda’s leadership, the Badgers had one of the best defenses in the country. So it was not surprising Aranda would be on the national coaching radar.   Some things were surprising, though. Aranda did not leave Wisconsin to become a head coach, but rather made a somewhat sideway move to be a DC at an SEC school.   And something that may have best explained Aranda’s move: His new annual salary will be a reported $1.3 million and be basically guaranteed for three years. That compares to $520,000/year he apparently was making at Wisconsin. The $1.3 million will probably be more money than many Division 1 head coaches are making – and a salary Wisconsin would be either unwilling or unable to match.   It also highlights the unfairness that now exists among college coaches and college athletes. If one of the Badger players had announced he was transferring to LSU he would have had to sit out the upcoming season. Not only does a coach not have to sit out a year, but he gets a huge raise to leave his former team.   Just in case anyone still wonders why college athletes are making more demands….     By John... read more

THE LABAHN ARENA AND UW FIELD HOUSE: A VERY LOUD FRIDAY NIGHT!

The buzz you may have heard last Friday night (December 4) on the University of Wisconsin campus wasn’t just from the bars on State Street.   At 7 pm, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team was hosting Minnesota at the sold-out 2,200 seat LaBahn Arena.   At 8 pm, the Wisconsin volleyball team was hosting Iowa Sate in a second round NCAA tournament match at the nearly sold out (5500+) UW Field House. The start time for the match was changed from 7 pm to 8 pm so it could be shown on the Big Ten Network.   Why all the excitement? Simple.   The UW hockey team came into the two-game series against the third ranked Gophers with a 16-0 record and the country’s No. 1 ranking.   The UW volleyball team came into the match against Iowa State having won 13 straight matches with an overall record of 25-6 and the No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament.   Both the hockey team and the volleyball team won Friday night – hockey in a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over Minnesota and volleyball in an impressive 25-18, 25-15, 25-21 sweep of Iowa State. The volleyball team had advanced to Friday night’s match with a 3-1 victory over Oregon Thursday night. The hockey team followed up the 3-2 win with a 3-1 win on Saturday night before another sell-out crowd.   Not only was the Field House almost sold out, as one news account described it, there was a “rowdy crowd” at the match.   It was also a homecoming of sorts at the Field House for my wife Nancy... read more
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