|Ryan has restricted Jarrod Uthoff from transferring to 25 schools. (US Presswire)|
It's hardly a rarity these days for coaches to put stipulations when kids leave their program.
South Carolina has done it with big man Damontre Harris after the Gamecocks, according to sources, believed N.C. State assistant Orlando Early tampered before the 6-foot-9 sophomore obtained his release. Others have placed restrictions on going somewhere within the same league -- or even to a program on the schedule for the next season.
|More on Uthoff, Wisconsin|
But Wisconsin's Bo Ryan has taken it to a new extreme.
The Badgers coach was clearly caught off guard when redshirt freshman forward Jarrod Uthoff called to inform him and assistant Gary Close that he wanted to leave. Ryan was upset -- no, fuming -- because he felt as though Uthoff could be an impact guy in the Big Ten down the road and he never gave it a chance in Madison.
So he decided to fight back in the only manner he could: Prohibiting the 6-foot-8 Iowa native from being recruited by 25 schools.
Ryan should be ashamed of himself.
It's one thing if a kid has checked out and is calling other schools in an effort to be recruited.
"That wasn't the case," Uthoff told CBSSports.com. "I wouldn't talk to any college coaches. They can check my phone records if they want. I have enough respect for Wisconsin and for myself not to go behind anyone's back. That would be wrong."
Uthoff told CBSSports.com that he initially tried to talk to Ryan face to face soon after the season ended. But Ryan was at the Final Four, then it was spring break, and then Uthoff said his coach took some time off on vacation. So, he called him and then went into speak to Close -- who was the primary recruiter in getting Uthoff, an Iowa native, to Wisconsin.
"He was surprised," Uthoff said. "They all were."
In fairness to Ryan and the rest of the staff, they were blindsided for good reason. Uthoff didn't play a single game this past season, instead redshirting.
That, according to a source close to Ryan, is one of the reasons that had the Badgers head coach beyond angered. He had high hopes for the forward -- and he felt as though Uthoff never gave him and the program a chance.
"I left because of how I fit into their style of play and how I feel that they were going to utilize me," Uthoff said. "I was able to see that after spending a year on the team."
If I were Ryan, I'd be upset as well. He felt as though he had a future all-Big Ten player at his disposal, maybe even a pro. But instead of ultimately taking the high road and understanding this isn't worth the public scrutiny he's currently facing, Ryan is aiming for revenge in the only manner he is able: restricting where Uthoff can land.
Uthoff said he was initially told that Iowa, Indiana, Iowa State and Marquette would be on the initial list of those who wouldn't be receiving "permission to contact." Then, earlier in the week, Virginia -- coached by former Wisconsin assistant Tony Bennett -- reached out to talk to Uthoff and was promptly denied. That's when Uthoff learned the entire ACC was on the list of schools who had been denied permission to contact.
That means two of the elite leagues in America are off-limits for Uthoff. The Big Ten is understandable -- and no one flinched until learning that the entire ACC was on the list. Now Uthoff is in a holding pattern. He wants to stay close to his Cedar Rapids, Iowa, home so his family can watch him play. He's looking at both Creighton and Northern Iowa.
"Those are good places, but I'd like to explore all my options," Uthoff said. "And see who's interested at this point. But I can't really do that."
Uthoff knows he's not a West Coast guy -- and therefore, the Pac-12 isn't even in the discussion. He understands his game doesn't translate into the SEC with all the high-level athletes littered up and down rosters. He may consider Kansas State in the Big 12, but it's still more than six hours away.
Ryan declined the opportunity to talk to CBSSports.com about the Uthoff situation. His decision to limit Uthoff's options, maybe an effort to keep him in Madison, isn't worth the negative backlash. Maybe Ryan should give St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli a call -- he was blasted for weeks last season after he wouldn't let former Hawks reserve Todd O'Brien finish out his career after transferring to UAB.
It's not worth it, Bo. Just let Uthoff go wherever he wants -- within reason. You want to block in-state rival Marquette? Fine. Want to prohibit him from playing within the league? OK. But to restrict this kid from 25 schools -- including the entire Atlantic Coast Conference?
"I really have no idea why he's doing this," Uthoff said.
Because he thinks he can.