Disheartening news has come out that current Colorado Buffaloes head coach Jeff Bzdelik is being courted by Wake Forest of the ACC for it's head coaching job. In fact, sources say it has gone a little farther than courting and when people like Andy Katz of ESPN get involved in the story, it is a sure fire sign something is brewing. Katz has talked to a source with knowledge of the situation and believes a deal is close to being done:
A source with knowledge of the situation at Wake Forest said no announcement was due until next week but multiple sources said throughout the day on Friday that a deal was close to being done.
We have gone through this with Jeff Bzdelik before as he was in the running for the Chicago Bulls job two years ago and a top assistant job with the Minnesota Timberwolves last year. You always look for connections when evaluating a potential change for a coach and there are many reasons a move to Wake Forest makes sense for Bzdelik. First, hands down, Wake Forest is a better basketball program than Colorado. They expect greatness, they fired Dino Gaudio this past week with a 61 - 31 record. Not a typo, 61 - 31. The trouble for Gaudio is he had a lot of talent but failed to get anything done in the postseason. The Demon Deacons have a history, they can recruit with the best of them and they have fan support. It is hard to say Colorado basketball can compete in any of those categories right now.
On a personal level, Bzdelik started his coaching career at Davidson in North Carolina, his daughter attends Wake Forest University and Bzdelik is friends with athletic director Ron Wellman. Bzdelik was an assistant coach at Northwestern when Ron Wellman was the baseball coach. So the personal ties are there.
And finally we come to the current situation at Colorado, as if there needs to be any more reasons for Bzdelik to logically move to North Carolina to take the job. Let's start with what the Wake Forest site on SBNation stated in their post about the situation. Here is from Blogger So Dear:
While Bzdelik certainly has a good pedigree of coaching stints (aside from this last stop at Colorado), it is difficult to grasp the idea that Ron Wellman fired Dino Gaudio, who had a 61-31 overall record, to hire a coach who is 36-58 at his current job. Fans would likely give Bzdelik a fair shake to show his coaching skills, but they are sure to be skeptical of a hire that is, for lack of a better word, boring.
The perception of Jeff Bzdelik is 36 - 58 at Colorado. Is Jeff Bzdelik better than a 36 - 58 coach? Yes. But the perception is 36 - 58. The perception is Bzdelik is running a boring Princeton offense that doesn't play a whole lot of defense and can't rebound. The perception is Bzdelik is doing a decent job making strides at Colorado but can he sustain any sort of success at Colorado? He has not been able to get a commitment from a big guy with any ability to help in the paint and he is one year away from potentially losing his two star players in Alec Burks and Cory Higgins. The key is being able to find a big man and players like Burks and Higgins on a consistent basis to stay relevant. Can you do that at Colorado? Let's say this, it is easier to get those players at Wake Forest. The point is the head coaching job at Colorado may be a career killer for Bzdelik if he has another below .500 year. Teams like Wake Forest might not be knocking this time next year or the year after that. So career wise, this move makes sense for Bzdelik.
Then you get to the state of Colorado athletics. I truly do sympathize with Dan Hawkins (yes, I do) and Jeff Bzdelik when it comes to trying to build a successful athletic program at the University of Colorado with some of the obstacles in place. You know the list by now:
1) At Wake Forest, Jeff Bzdelik will be able to give his assistants long term contracts. In the state of Colorado under that TABOR laws, CU cannot give assistants long term deals.
2) The University of Colorado admissions criteria for student-athletes is not competitive with other Big 12 schools. Every year, we hear multiple stories about players going to Kansas State, Nebraska, Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State, Missouri, etc. who just weren't up to snuff academically for Colorado. Wake Forest is a very prestigous academic University but they also are able to compete in recruiting for top prospects.
3) And while Colorado is building a practice basketball/volleyball facility, the Buffs are still pretty far behind in the facilities arm race.
As for us Colorado fans, we are left wondering when the good news will start coming. Certainly this report is not good to hear and hopefully, Bzdelik spurns the Demon Deacons and returns to Colorado. I think I speak for most when I say Colorado basketball had a little life to it this past year and while Bzdelik is 36 - 58 in his three years at Colorado, I can say this with confidence that any replacement will not be the caliber of coach that Bzdelik is, especially when you consider the people running the show at Colorado and the economic times. He has moved the needle in terms of wins. Bzdelik was 12-20 overall and 2-13 in the Big 12 in 2007-08, 9-22 and 1-15 in conference play in 2008-09 and 15-16 and 6-10 in 2009-10. This past season, the Buffs beat a Baylor team that made it to the elite eight this year, took Kansas to overtime and had a shot to beat Kansas State.
Stay tuned but it doesn't look good for Colorado.