April 13, 2010
Colorado is a great state, and it’s about to be blessed with a vast improvement.
Buzzy, sometimes known as Jeff Bzdelik, is flying away to North Carolina. As soon as he departs, our state transforms to a better place.
Three years ago, Buzzy abandoned the basketball team at Air Force amid a haze of deception after a clandestine courtship by Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn.
This morning, Bohn will receive his payback when Bzdelik is introduced as coach at Wake Forest. The man who betrayed two Colorado colleges in three years will be gone.
If we’re lucky, he’ll never come back.
What a strange hire. Last week, Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman fired Dino Gaudio after three seasons. Gaudio finished 44-18 the past two seasons, including a 20-12 record in the ultra-tough Atlantic Coast Conference.
Today, Wellman introduces Bzdelik, who finished 10-38 in the Big 12 in three seasons at CU. Bzdelik never has won an NCAA Tournament game.
Wellman dismissed Gaudio because he was disappointed by the Demon Deacons’ late-season collapses.
I’m wondering if Wellman examined the 2006-07 Air Force team coached by Bzdelik. The Falcons climbed as high as No. 11 in the nation and were hopping along with a 10-3 Mountain West record with a clear view of the NCAA Tournament.
Then it all fell apart.
The Falcons crashed, losing four straight and blowing a certain ride to college basketball’s ultimate show.
Bzdelik deserves most of the blame for the skid. He pushed his exhausted players without mercy or wisdom. He refused to use his bench in a crucial late-season loss to BYU. He drove his Falcons straight out of the tourney.
I’m also wondering if Wellman has taken a close look — or any look — at what has happened at Air Force since Bzdelik’s departure. The Falcons have lost 31 of their past 32 regular-season conference games, and there are plenty of villains to be found in the wreckage.
Bzdelik resides near the top of the list. He inherited five players — Nick Welch, Dan Nwaelele, Antoine Hood, Jacob Burtschi and Tim Anderson — who had been or would be first- or second-team all-MWC.
In his two seasons at the academy, Bzdelik didn’t recruit one player who approaches that quintet in talent.
“Jeff Bzdelik didn’t do a lot of personal recruiting,” athletic director Hans Mueh told me last year. “He just didn’t. I don’t know what to make of that. It just is.”
I can explain Bzdelik’s lack of recruiting success at Air Force. He never planned to stay. He never cared about the future of the program. He was too busy plotting his next move.
After Bzdelik’s first season at Air Force, he met with Denver Nuggets coach George Karl at a Village Inn to talk about an assistant’s job. This began a Buzzy tradition.
After each season, Bzdelik is looking for another job. He talked with NBA teams every offseason during his time in Boulder.
Let me make a wild prediction:
Next spring, when Wake Forest’s season concludes, Bzdelik will be testing the NBA waters again. The man knows no other way.
Yet he’s being handed a massive bundle of cash to follow a fired coach who won 71 percent of his games the past two seasons.
What a strange hire.
But what a great day for our state.
And, please, don’t come back.