Mr. Big Shot is not calling the shots at Colorado.
However, athletic director Mike Bohn is willing to listen to Chauncey Billups and other big names in the basketball world as the search begins for Jeff Bzdelik`s replacement.
During a round-table discussion with the media at the Dal Ward Center on Wednesday, just hours after Bzdelik was named the new head coach at Wake Forest, Bohn said he had already received unsolicited advice from Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl and Charlotte Bobcats head coach Larry Brown.
CU senior associate athletic director Tom McGrath is heading the search committee. From his days working with USA Basketball and the Boston Celtics, McGrath has his share of big-name contacts to query, including Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim.
"The basketball minds we`re talking about are the type of people we need to have in this process and to help this program long term," Bohn said. "Whether their horse in the race is ultimately named coach or not, that`s the indivisible type of following and support that I think is imperative for us to build here."
Billups actually broke the news of Bzdelik`s eminent departure to Bohn via text message as Wake Forest quickly targeted the CU coach to replace Dino Gaudio.
"It was Chauncey who was the one that really gave me the first impression that we had an issue with Jeff," Bohn admitted. "I appreciate that outreach from Chauncey. He cares about this program, he`s a great Colorado kid as you all now, and it`s refreshing and inspiring to us to have that type of individual helping us."
There is not a specific timetable for naming Bzdelik`s replacement, however, Wednesday was the first day in a critical recruiting period for CU men's basketball.
“That's probably one of the most frustrating pieces of this transition is the timing in how it relates to recruiting. That's a challenge,” Bohn said. “We do have a recruit coming in this weekend and we'll try to take advantage of the great work that the staff has continued to do despite Jeff's departure.”
CU associate head coach Steve McClain has been working with players and recruiting this week. He is officially a candidate for the position and told the Camera that he turned down an offer from Bzdelik to leave for Wake Forest so he could pursue the head coaching position with the Buffs.
The players have made it clear that they would like McClain to be hired. Alec Burks even hinted that he might leave CU if another coach were named.
“You factor it in, but every AD or general manager knows that you hire coaches that can work with your players and make that work,” Bohn said. “And I respect Alec's passion for Steve. We have respect for Steve and we will certainly look forward to an interview session with Steve.
“But in the end we have to do what is right for the program long term.”
Mike Dunlap, the former Metro State head coach and Nuggets assistant, is another likely candidate with local ties. Same story for Northern Colorado head coach Tad Boyle, whose Bears took the Buffs to school during a preseason scrimmage at the Coors Events Center last November.
“Those are both intriguing candidates,” Bohn said. “But I think it's premature to talk specifically about any candidate or any process associated with any individual until our committee has the ability to do their work.”
Karl could have been lobbying for Dunlap or current Nuggets assistant Jamahl Mosley, a former CU player.
And Brown? Perhaps Kansas assistant Danny Manning or someone Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins, the father of current CU star Cory Higgins, wants to see on the bench at the Coors Events Center.
“We have to find somebody that can seize that opportunity and take that equity that has built over the last three years,” Bohn said. “Building facilities and infrastructure, our young men, and the excitement and energy of our fan base ... that's all momentum.
“And we want someone who can take advantage of that and keep pushing the rock up hill rather than have it roll right back on top of them.”
Jay Humphries, a former CU and NBA star, would like to throw his hat in the ring. He believes his background as an alumni of the school and knowledge of what it takes to make it to the next level fits perfectly.
“I'm sure this is going to work out for all parties and that they will find a good coach to take over,” Humphries, a former Phoenix Suns assistant who is now the head coach of the D-League's Reno franchise, told the Camera. “A lot of high caliber student-athletes are going to want to have an avenue of opportunity to further their basketball career. I most definitely can help them with that.”
Bohn did not watch Bzdelik's introductory press conference at Wake Forest. The former CU coach put in a brief plug for McClain.
“I hope so, but I don't know,” Bzdelik said when asked if he though McClain would be named as his replacement. “I don't know what their thought process was, to be honest with you. I don't know.”