This Bo Ryan-Jarrod Uthoff story has gone from a little odd to really bizarre.
Uthoff is the Cedar Rapids Jefferson grad who recently asked for his release from Wisconsin's men's basketball program after one season, in which he redshirted. Uthoff is a 6-foot-8 player of considerable potential. He was Iowa's high school Mr. Basketball in 2011.
Ryan is the longtime Badgers head coach.
Uthoff's request caught Ryan off-guard. Ryan granted it, with the stipulation that Uthoff couldn't go on to play for any other Big Ten school (not unusual), in-state rival Marquette (OK), and Iowa State (What? Wisconsin doesn't play Iowa State.)
Then, Virginia asked Ryan for permission to speak to Uthoff. And Ryan put the entire ACC on Uthoff's no-play list.
Is it simply because Wisconsin plays one regular-season game per year against ACC teams and Ryan doesn't want to run the risk of having Uthoff try to beat his team? That seems like quite a reach to me.
Luckily for Uthoff, Creighton and Northern Iowa haven't made the list. So he still has options. But they are fewer than he would have imagined last week.
Look, Ryan has never struck me as disloyal or dishonest. And there are two sides to every story. But this is weird. And it isn't playing well at all nationally. ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd was dogging Ryan about it on his Tuesday show.
"It's amazing to me," Cowherd said. (See video below. Cowherd even called Iowa "a good basketball state.")
The Big Lead certainly didn't mince words about it.
This ESPN.com post by Eamonn Brennan makes an obvious point, but a good one. If Ryan wanted to bolt to another job elsewhere in college basketball tomorrow, he could go without barriers.
And it's very easy and logical for Hawkeye fans to cite Iowa releasing freshman recruit Ben Brust to Wisconsin in 2010 after Iowa had a coaching change following Brust's commitment to the school. Not that Iowa had much choice. A committee of Big Ten faculty representatives voted in favor of Wisconsin's appeal to be able to sign Brust.
Whatever Ryan's motivation, it looks nothing but vindictive. It also adds to the fuel of those who think major-college athletics do a very good job of exploiting their athletes.