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Bzdelik Taking Over Colorado Basketball Program

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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) _ Coach Jeff Bzdelik became the new coach at Colorado on Wednesday, leaving the top job at Air Force and signing a five-year deal with the Buffaloes.

Bzdelik, who had two successful seasons at Air Force, agreed to a deal worth $750,000 annually plus incentives, Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn said.

At Air Force, Bzdelik had a 50-16 record with an NCAA tournament appearance last season and a trip to the NIT final four last week.

``I love the Air Force Academy. I love Colorado,'' Bzdelik said at a news conference. ``I am very blessed (that) I had two great, great opportunities here in a state that I love. My family loves the sate.''

Bzdelik said other schools called him, but ``I just told them flat-out no as soon as I took the phone call.''

Colorado paid Air Force $270,000 to buy out Bzdelik, who had four years left on his contract with the Falcons.

Bzdelik replaces Ricardo Patton, who resigned after 11 seasons and was hired as head coach at Northern Illinois last month.

``Jeff symbolizes all the essential leadership qualities that are important to successfully direct the Buffs basketball program and represent the University of Colorado with class and distinction,'' Bohn said.

As late as Tuesday night, Bzdelik was undecided about accepting Bohn's offer. He met with Falcons basketball players at the Air Force Academy and told them he was unsure about whether he wanted to leave. Several hours later, he accepted the Colorado job.

Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh had said he would do everything in his power to keep Bzdelik, who was believed to be the only coaching candidate to visit CU during Bohn's nearly six-month search to replace Patton.

Bzdelik was considered a candidate for the Colorado job from the moment Patton announced his resignation, effective at season's end, on Oct. 25.

Bzdelik toured the CU campus Monday and met with Bohn, Chancellor Bud Peterson, football coach Dan Hawkins and members of the basketball coach search committee. He also met with some of the team's returning players.

Patton closed out his CU career with a 7-20 record during which the Buffs failed to win consecutive games for the first time since 1971-72.

Bzdelik was the Falcons' second coach in four years. The Falcons finished 26-9 last season after losing to Clemson in the NIT semifinals last week. The 26 wins were a school record and followed a 24-7 mark in Bzdelik's first season at Air Force.

Bzdelik spent 2 1/2 seasons as coach of the Denver Nuggets before accepting the Air Force job. Before that, he served as an assistant at Miami and Washington and as a scout for Denver and the New York Knicks.

With coaching jobs at Air Force and in the NBA, Bzdelik has little experience recruiting, but he said that won't be a hindrance. Bzdelik said his NBA experience will be a selling point for recruits hoping for a professional career.
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