USA TODAY Sports
A day following Wake Forest’s season-ending 75-62 loss to Maryland in the first round of the ACC Tournament, Winston-Salem Journal beat writer Dan Collins chimed in with his thoughts of the season. The article, appropriately titled “Massive Fail,” provides insight to Collins’ thoughts on the state of Wake Forest basketball and head coach Jeff Bzdelik.
Collins opines that this team was "way too good" to have finished 6-13 with C.J. Harris, Travis McKie, Devin Thomas, and a cast of "three or four other freshmen who didn’t look like they belonged in the CAA." With this article Collins has effectively departed from the path taken over the first two seasons where he wrote, and believed, Bzdelik needed more time at the helm of Wake Forest.
Bzdelik has now been at Wake Forest for three years and Collins rightfully notes that with this team he "had an ACC team."
Collins also includes plenty of lines which will surely stoke the fire of the already furious Wake Forest fan base, strongly hinting that he does not buy into the "good/bad" paradigm that Jeff Bzdelik, Ron Wellman and the Wake Forest administration has attempted to use as a dividing line between Dino Gaudio’s teams and recruits and Jeff Bzdelik’s teams.
Perhaps the most damning and effective line of the article is Collins’ question: Which ACC coach got less out of what he had this season? An argument for this could be made for Mark Gottfried, but the Wolfpack is still playing in the ACC Tournament and looks to peaking at the right time heading towards the NCAA’s. The answer, as Collins clearly knows, is painfully obvious: Jeff Bzdelik.
The actual statistics do not need to be rehashed. Every Wake fan knows that Bzdelik has a horrible record at Wake – and at Colorado for that matter. This article is insightful not because of the arguments presented, but rather because of the source of the argument. Collins has the role of Wake Forest beat writer and is undoubtedly the closest media presence to the team. He has handled his job with all the professionalism we would expect from him, and he has endured the overtly awkward job of dealing with Bzdelik in the media setting for the last three years.
If the beat writer has reached a clear level of frustration, it should be a major indication of the temperature of the fan base. Collins further notes that it is not his job to hire or fire coaches, but that for what it’s worth he would go after Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart were it his job.
It is clear that Collins has crossed the Rubicon with this article. Despite the various encounters I have personally had with Wake Forest media relations and sports information in multiple capacities, I do not believe that this will impact the credentials or job that Collins currently holds as Wake Forest beat writer. I do not fault or blame anybody who believes that this will mark the end of Collins’ reign as it is very possible that Wake Forest could be extremely reactionary about the article. Everyone associated with Demon Deacons athletics in general probably knows Wake Forest’s media relations department is fickle on its best day.
The biggest question now is not whether or not Wake Forest can afford a change, it is whether or not Wake Forest can afford not to make a change. The evidence mounted against Jeff Bzdelik goes well beyond a reasonable doubt on whether or not he should return.
Fans raised $2500 in under 24 hours to mount an advertising campaign against him and the beat writer indicates that he does not believe that Jeff Bzdelik can get the job done. At the end of the day it must be asked: Is anybody listening? Does anybody in Wake Forest’s administration care about the general unrest of the fan base? If they do, it’s time for action before they reach a point where they cannot get the fan base back because they are quickly approaching this point.
Collins concludes the article by stressing that he is tired of the excuses and will no longer "peddle the future of Wake Forest," but does not fault Bzdelik and Wellman for doing so because "what else do they have to sell?" Well stated, Dan.
If a fan base screams and everybody hears it does it make a sound to the administration? Obviously not at Wake Forest.