AD Ron Wellman Misses a Great Opportunity
Keeping Bzdelik is the wrong decision.
Bzdelik was hired in 2010 and he wasn’t exactly a popular hire at that time either. Demon Deacon fans were not impressed that the man chosen to lead the program had just spent the previous three years at Colorado, where the Buffaloes had gone 36-58.
And after compiling a 33-59 record in his first three years in Winston-Salem, Bzdelik has become even more unpopular.
At one point this season, the decision was made to stop letting people call in on his weekly radio show because the comments were becoming so critical of him. Later in the season, ads began running in daily publications in the Greensboro-Winston Salem area calling for the firing of Bzdelik. The natives have become quite restless.
What’s not helping matters is that many other programs in the ACC appear to be on the rise. Tony Bennett is building a strong foundation at Virginia, Brian Gregory has some excellent young talent at Georgia Tech, and Jim Larranaga has a great chance at leading Miami to a National Championship this season. The arrival of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and eventually Louisville to the conference will make the ACC even more competitive. Things could get worse at Wake Forest before they get better.
Yet, Ron Wellman decided to keep him around for another season. In doing so, Wellman likely missed a golden opportunity to replace Bzdelik.
In the past three days, two coaches who have previously led programs to the Final Four were fired. Tubby Smith lost his job at Minnesota and Ben Howland was fired at UCLA. I don’t know if either of these men would take the job at Wake Forest, but I definitely think they’d be willing to discuss the opportunity.
Smith is a guy who is from the south and still has strong connections in the southeast region. Howland had tremendous success at Pittsburgh when the program was going up against the powers of Syracuse, Georgetown, and UConn in the Big East, which isn’t too different than from what Wake Forest faces in the ACC.
Either of these guys would be a HUGE upgrade over Bzdelik, and I think Wake Forest would be one of the more intriguing job openings out there if Wellman would make it available.
It’s a program with some tradition in a fertile region for recruiting and a coach has the opportunity to tell a guy he can play in the ACC, which will be the premier college basketball conference in America. I think that actually sounds more appealing than the openings at UCLA or Minnesota. Winston-Salem, North Carolina isn’t exactly a huge market, but that’s becoming irrelevant with the power of media and television contracts.
Had Wellman been able to hire a coach like Tubby Smith or Ben Howland, it would have created tremendous buzz around the program going into the new era of the ACC.
Instead, the Demon Deacons will likely suffer through another abysmal year. Maybe Wellman will fire Bzdelik after next season, but who knows if coaches like Smith or Howland will be available to replace him by then?
It looks like Wellman is going down with the ship, which desperately needs a new captain.
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