Unless somebody gets cold feet this weekend, it appears the basketball marriage between Jeff Bzdelik and Wake Forest is going to take place.

A source close to the situation told the Camera on Saturday that Bzdelik leaving Colorado after three seasons to become the head coach at Wake Forest "is a done deal" and the ACC school is just waiting to set up a news conference before announcing the hire.

About 24 hours earlier, Bzdelik emerged as the leading candidate to replace Dino Gaudio, who was abruptly fired last Wednesday despite guiding the Demon Deacons to a 61-31 record in three seasons.

Bzdelik led the Denver Nuggets back into the NBA playoffs and posted a 50-16 record at Air Force while taking the Falcons to the NCAA Tournament before being hired by CU on April 4, 2007.

The Buffs were just 36-58 under Bzdelik, but the program made strides with a 15-16 record last season.

With Cory Higgins, Alec Burks, Marcus Relphorde and Shannon Sharpe expected to be back, CU should be in position for an NCAA Tournament berth in 2010-11.

Several CU players contacted by the Camera on Saturday were unaware of the situation and did not want to comment to news some of them viewed as "shocking."

"We`re going to meet as a team this weekend and kind of get on the same page before we talk about it," said Levi Knutson, who will be a senior shooting guard next season.

Other Buffs said independently that the chances of keeping the talented group together would be enhanced if CU were to promote associate head coach Steve McClain to head coach.


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"If (Bzdelik) leaves, of course it would be a shock. I thought he would be here for my two years," said Relphorde, who transferred to CU last summer from a junior college. "But if McClain gets the job that would be an easy transition."

Casey Crawford decided to leave the program with a year of eligibility remaining after the Buffs were eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City last month. Ironically, the Wake Forest transfer might be open to returning to CU under a new head coach.

"Everything I`ve heard is purely speculation and nothing is set in stone," said Crawford, who had planned to start a professional playing career overseas after graduation this May. "But if coach McClain gets the job I might review my options."

Tom Abatemarco, who was hired by Bzdelik just last month, was the only assistant coach at the CU basketball offices Saturday afternoon. He was unpacking from a recruiting trip and had no comment on the situation.

Bzdelik`s daughter, Courtney, is a student at Wake Forest, and he worked with the school`s athletic director, Ron Wellman, during his days as an assistant at Northwestern from 1981-86.

"We were together," Wellman told the Winston-Salem Journal. "He was the assistant basketball coach at Northwestern when I was the baseball coach. We were friendly. We didn`t do anything socially with each other, but I`ve kept up with his career.

Bzdelik has coached in North Carolina before as a young assistant at Davidson.

CU athletic director Mike Bohn -- already searching for a new women`s head coach after firing Kathy McConnell-Miller -- lured Bzdelik away from the Air Force three years ago with a five-year contract that included $650,000 a year in guaranteed money.

The deal also included a clause that would void Bzdelik`s buyout if the cash-strapped athletic department did not break ground on a new practice facility before the end of his third year. Bzdelik joined Bohn at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Coors Events Center on March 25, which means CU will now be owed $500,000 if he leaves.

"I think it`s tangible evidence when we bring a recruit in now that they see that things are happening," Bzdelik said at the groundbreaking. "It`s not just talk."

When asked earlier in the week about getting a possible contract extension negotiated with Bohn, Bzdelik said he was just focused on recruiting. The critical spring signing period begins on Wednesday.

"We need to go recruit right now and we need to continue to get stronger and develop these players," Bzdelik said after the Buffs` season ended with a loss to Texas Tech in the first round of the conference tournament on March 10. 

Bzdelik`s first CU team, which included talented Ricardo Patton holdovers Richard Roby and Marcus Hall, finished 12-20. The longtime NBA scout and coach flirted with leaving the college ranks for a job as an assistant with the Chicago Bulls during the offseason.

The Buffs suffered through a 9-22 record in Bzdelik`s second season, including a 1-15 record in Big 12 play. He considered another assistant coaching position with the Minnesota Timberwolves last summer.

Thanks largely to the solid play of Higgins, Bzdelik`s first recruit at CU, and Burks` spectacular debut, the Buffs put themselves in position for an NIT bid down the stretch as fans began flocking to the Coors Events Center again.

"We had a vision to build a program, to build a culture the right way, and we knew that would take time," Bzdelik said after CU`s regular-season finale on March 6. "Fortunately, the majority of the fans and the administration have been very supportive. The majority of you (the media) have been very patient and honest and fair, and I appreciate that very much.

"We just need to keep going forward."