Make a list of the coaches and players who have said "money isn't the driving force for me," and you'll need lots of paper and more than a few grains of salt.

But when new Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle says it, you can believe it.


He's already proven it. Tad Boyle follows his passion, not his pocketbook.

In the early 1990s, Boyle lived in Boulder and was enjoying a successful career as a stockbroker -- a career that was providing a six-figure income and the promise of much more.

But deep down, Boyle knew his passion was basketball, not bonds. His jones was the dribble-drive, not the Dow.

So Boyle left his job and the security it provided. Left Boulder and packed for Eugene, Oregon, where a job as the restricted-earnings coach for Jerry Greene's Oregon staff awaited him.

His salary that first year? A whopping $16,000 per year. Boyle went from rib-eyes to ramen -- and he couldn't have been happier.

"It was a major life decision, but I knew it was what I wanted to do," Boyle said Monday afternoon at his introductory press conference. "I followed my passion."

He's been following it ever since. From Oregon to Tennessee to Jacksonville State to Wichita State and finally back home to Greeley and Northern Colorado.

At every stop, Boyle left the program in better shape than when he arrived. He hasn't chased a check; he's sought challenge.

He's found exactly that in Boulder.


Boyle on Monday took over a program that has been to the NCAA Tournament just twice in the last 40 years, a place where expectations are almost always the same: fans expect the team to finish closer to the bottom than the top of the conference standings.

But it's also an interesting time in CU hoops history. A rarity. Boyle takes over just when expectations -- at least by CU standards -- are relatively high.

A decent nucleus of players is in place. Crowds were uplast year. And, in the last interview the former head coach gave before leaving town, Jeff Bzdelik said he expected to be in the NCAA Tournament next season.

Fans heard that, and won`t forget. Those expectations didn`t leave town with Bzdelik. No matter what happens, no matter who goes or stays, CU fans will expect the Buffs to be an improved team next year. They`ll expect CU to actually ... gasp ... be in the running for an NCAA Tournament berth.

"There`s some excitement about CU basketball," Boyle allowed, "and that`s great.

"But the only expectations that are important are the internal expectations. That`s what I`m concerned about. And right now, the main thing is we have to retain the players currently in the program."

Most of the players appear ready to give their new head coach a chance. But one player -- and one of the most important pieces of the puzzle -- hasn`t made up his mind. CU sophomore-to-be Alec Burks, the reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year, said he`s still studying his options.

Here`s hoping Burks takes a deep breath and studies them closely. Burks has a very good chance of being a high NBA draft pick one year from now. Sitting out a year of competition as a transfer wouldn`t exactly enhance those chances.

Boyle will have a weeklong window to get to know his players -- and for them to get to know him. NCAA rules allow limited postseason workouts, and Boyle will use those workouts to help his players get acquainted with his style, and hopefully sense the passion he brings to the game.

Meanwhile, CU officials will take a deep breath. In the span of eight days, they`ve replaced basketball coaches for their men`s and women`s program. It`s been a whirlwind couple of weeks.

For athletic director Mike Bohn, it`s an especially important hire. Bohn`s first basketball coach at CU was a good one. Bzdelik helped turn the direction of the program, but left before he finished the job. His departure was seen as a major step back for the program.

Bohn now must hope that this coach goes beyond the first one. Bohn needs this one to succeed -- and stay.

That`s been a rare combination at CU, but in terms of matching the man with the job, Bohn could have searched for months and not found a better fit. 

Boyle knows basketball, he knows Colorado and he knows how to win. Everywhere he`s been, he`s been successful, and he`s done it with integrity and passion.

That`s a formula Colorado needs -- and because of all those things, the Buffs changed directions in a hurry on Monday. One week after a major setback, they took a step forward.

That`s a good start.