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A Tribute to the Worst Road Coach Ever: Jeff Bzdelik

Ron Wellman, wake forest’s Athletic Director, finally did on Thursday what any other AD would have done at least one year ago, if not two years ago — he fired Head Basketball Coach Jeff Bzdelik.  Jeff is a great friend of Ron’s and so this was no doubt a painful decision for Ron.  But when you get in bed with a close friend, who also happens to be the worst coach in the ACC and was coming off a horrible stint at colorado that saw him fired after 3 seasons, then this is what you get.

I place this up there with Terry Holland hiring his former player, ricky “program bomb” stokes, as the head coach at ecu after what stokes did to VT (Holland was the AD at ecu at the time).  At least ecu gave up on that failed revival after two seasons, wake fans had to sit through four years.

What makes it even worse for wake is they fired Dino Gaudio after 3 seasons… the final two of which Dino led wake to the NCAA Tournament including a NCAA win.  But he was “just 17-18″ in February and March.  Uh huh.

So in comes his good buddy.  How bad was Jeff Bzdelik as a coach?  For starters, he appears TWICE on the list of worst coaches over the 30 years according to Athlon Sports, honoring his tenure at colorado and wake (the list was made last March): Worst Coaches Since 1984.

In some cases you need to see it to believe how bad someone was.  In this case, the numbers blow you away.

ROAD WRECK-ORD:

  • At wake:
    • 2-32 (5.8% win %) over 4 seasons in ACC road games
    • Lost 17 straight ACC road games before winning at VT this past season (amazingly this was NOT his longest road losing streak in conference play…)
    • Point Differential:
      • 27 of those 32 losses were by 10+ points (that’s 79.4% of ALL the ACC road games they played)
      • 12 losses by 20+ points (35.3% of all ACC road games)
      • 2 by 30+ points (Yes, he lost as many ACC road games by 30+ points as he won!)
      • -524 all told in ACC road games (including the wins)
      • Average margin of defeat was 15.4 points in ACC road games
    • wake scheduled fewer out of conference road games every single season he was the head coach
  • At colorado:
    • 1-23 (4.2%) over 3 seasons in Big 12 road games
    • Lost his first 23 conference road games before winning his final one at colorado
  • Total:
    • 3-55 (5.2%) in conference road games in 7 seasons at colorado/wake
    • Seriously — WHAT THE EFF WAS HE DOING BEFORE ROAD GAMES???!!!
      • Team went to frat parties the night before?
      • 3 AM conditioning
      • Slept on the bus?

Ok, ok, he was bad on the road.  But he must have redeemed himself in the ACC Tournament like Sidney Lowe used to do at nc state, right?

  • ACC Tournament Record: 1-4
    • wake never made it to the quarterfinals (i.e. Friday) in his 4 seasons.
    • wake went 0-4 in Thursday ACC games, losing by a combined 78 points (19.5 margin of defeat)
    • Fittingly, they lost by 29 to pitt last week in what was his final game as wake’s coach.

Was he good at home?  Yes, actually, they were pretty decent, and that’s what makes the road woes all the more mysterious.  Since going 1-15 in 2010-11, wake went 14-12 at home over the last 3 seasons.  So 14-12 at home (54%), 2-22 on the road (8%).

Let’s look at how wake did in the ACC compared to the rest of the league over the last 4 seasons (not including pitt or ‘cuse):

Team Wins Losses Win% Road Ws
duke 53 15 77.9% 22
unc 53 15 77.9% 23
uva 43 25 63.2% 16
fsu 41 27 60.3% 17
miami 37 31 54.4% 16
nc state 34 34 50.0% 13
clemson 32 36 47.1% 9
maryland 30 38 44.1% 8
bc 24 44 35.3% 8
ga tech 21 47 30.9% 8
HOKIES 19 49 27.9% 6
wake 17 51 25.0% 2

Tech fired two coaches during the same span it took wake to get rid of Bzdelik.  Think about that.

I should note that over the last 3 seasons the Hokies have just 3 road wins (1 per year), so they aren’t much better than Buzz.  But like I said, that cost two coaches their jobs.

Also, when you make Sidney Lowe and Paul Hewitt look like great road coaches, you know you are bad.

  • Sidney “Biz Markie” Lowe:
    • 25-55 in ACC play in 5 seasons (31%)
    • 7-33 in ACC road games (17.5%)
    • But Lowe went 5-5 in the ACC Tourney including a run to the title game (they lost) in 2007
    • FYI: Lowe was 3-4 vs Paul Hewitt, 2-0 vs Bzdelik
  • Paul “Blew It” Hewitt
    • 33-63 (34%) in ACC play in his final 6 seasons at georgia tech
    • 7-41 (14.6%) in ACC road games over those final 6 seasons
    • Also 5-5 in ACC Tourney play, including a run to the title game
    • 4-3 vs Lowe, and 2-0 vs Bzdelik
    • I should note Hewitt led the jackets all the way to the NCAA Championship Game the year before VT joined the ACC, but it was a steep drop-off after that.
  • James “Assistant Coach in Waiting” Johnson
    • 6-30 in ACC play (16.7%)
    • 2-16 in ACC road games (11%)
    • 1-2 vs Bzdelik

Tale of the Tape?  There are no winners here, but I’d rank these guys (in order of worst first):

  1. Bzdelik (I mean, look at that road record over 7 years and he took over a wake team that had been to 2 straight NCAAs.  JJ took over a team that had finished last in the ACC.)
  2. JJ (Had no prior HC experience where as Bzdelik had years of it before wake — another reason Bzdelik is the nod as the worst here)
  3. Lowe (Tons of talent, no defense — he was an awful coach in terms of preparing his teams)
  4. Hewitt (by virtue of head to head record vs Lowe and Buzz but his teams were atrocious on defense, too)

Here is where Athlon Sports ranked guys of note on their list of 20 worst coaches of the last 20 years:

1. Dave Bliss – baylor (sadly, murder will do that to you)

6. Bzdelik – wake edition

7. Sidney Lowe – nc state

16. Bzdelik – buffaloed

18. ricky stokes – Va Tech

**************************************************

Data:

Bzdelik Overall ACC Road ACC ACC-T
2010-11 8 24 1 15 0 8 0 1
2011-12 13 17 4 12 1 7 L5 0 1
2012-13 13 18 6 12 0 9 L14 0 1
2013-14 17 16 6 12 1 8 L17 1 1
TOTALS 51 75 17 51 2 32 1 4
Lowe 2-0 vs Bz
2006-07^ 20 16 5 11 2 6 L5 3 1
2007-08 15 16 4 12 1 7 L5 0 1
2008-09 16 14 6 10 1 7 L3 0 1
2009-10 20 16 5 11 2 6 2 1
2010-11 15 16 5 11 1 7 0 1
TOTALS 86 78 25 55 7 33 5 5
Hewitt 2-0 vs Bz
2010-11 13 18 5 11 1 7 L13 0 1
2009-10*^ 23 13 7 9 1 7 L6 3 1
2008-09 12 19 2 14 0 8 L9^ 1 1
2007-08 15 17 7 9 4 4 1 1
2006-07* 20 12 8 8 1 7 L14 0 1
2005-06 11 17 4 12 0 8 0 1
TOTALS 94 96 33 63 7 41 5 5
Johnson 1-2 vs Bz
2012-13 13 19 4 14 1 8 0 1
2013-14 9 21 2 16 1 8 0 1
TOTALS 22 40 6 30 2 16 0 2
* Made NCAA
^ Won 3 ACC-T games to reach Finals

This post was written by:

- who has written 1217 posts on Tech Hoops.

Niemo is a member of the VT Class of '98. While not a professional journalist by any stretch, Niemo analyzes and breaks down every minute of Hokie hoop action. He also researches topics of interest such as Hokie recruits, program revenue, statistical data on the team, previews VT opponents, and discusses his favorite bourbons/Scotches. In addition to his passion for Hokie hoops, Niemo has attended 126 straight VT football home games (every game since '94), eclipsing the 100 mark in September of '09 and recently attended his 20th consecutive VT/uva game. During the final home basketball game of his senior year, he was brought onto the court and was awarded 2 passes to the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament in Philly during a timeout for being a "Super Fan" during his time at VT. The Hokie Bird made the award on behalf of Athletic Director Jim Weaver. Niemo was known to be in the front row of every home game with his familiar red afro hairdo.

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  • Rich Roberts

    Bzdelik had two separate coaching tenures rated worse the Ricky Stokes. That is a true tribute to horribleness. So who now takes the reigns as the worst coach in the ACC?

    • Niemo

      Brian Gregory is hands down the worst coach now with the other 3 bottom feeders getting fired.

  • Doug Knowles

    been watching college ball for 45 years. JJ is the worst I have ever seen. Stokes was horrible but JJ had more to work with. He screwed up every situation he touched and beat Wake Forest only once in four games at home by one point. Bzdelik is a better coach.

    • Niemo

      Um, JJ only faced wake twice at VT and they split those 2 games. I can’t believe I’m arguing in favor of JJ but Bzdelik is not a better coach. You may just be biased by your fresh wounds from our program, but what Bzdelik did was epic.

  • Drew

    I complain about VT basketball but I couldn’t imagine being a Wake fan under Bzdelik. I think there would be a chance I’d get arrested for trying to burn down the athletic department. Wake was a very good program. They became laughably unwatchable under him. It’s crazy to see.

  • Rolerball

    This says as much about Wellman as it does Bzdelik. He was taking care of a friend at the expense of WF. I wonder if some of that personal character didn’t come into play when he was on the NCAA BB selection committee that snubbed VT.

    • Drew

      Wonder? You know it did, lol. That year, there was no way WF should have gotten in over us. Either we’re in or neither of us are. But that’s not what happened. That snub still irks me. All of our other bubble bursts I felt like we really did it to ourselves either through soft schedules or curious losses (usually to BC). But that year we most definitely got hosed! Maybe Bzdelik was karma paying WF back.

  • Les

    Hard to believe Larry Shyatt is not on the list. For a long time, the Thursday night play-in game for the ACC tournament was called the Larry Shyatt Invitational.

    • Niemo

      Les – Shyatt was #13. I just didn’t list him because he was at clemson before we joined the ACC.

  • Blue Collar Hokie

    DUDES!! BUZZ WILLIAMS!!!

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