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By: CUBuffs.com
Brooks: Boyle’s Players, Peers Praise His Spirit, Work Ethic
Release: April 19, 2010
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor

BOULDER - Mark Turgeon is generally credited with luring Tad Boyle into college coaching. Turgeon, though, tells a different story - one of an awakening that, at the time, didn't necessarily make financial sense for his good friend and former college teammate.

But Boyle is not driven by the dollar. If he was, he still might be working on Pearl Street as a stockbroker.

When Boyle was graduated from the University of Kansas, a business career in Boulder beckoned. But after awhile, so did basketball; Boyle worked at Greeley West, Loveland and Longmont High Schools before Turgeon convinced then-Oregon coach Jerry Green that Boyle would be a natural on the Ducks' staff.

Persuading Boyle to come to Eugene was a snap, Turgeon said: "I really think he persuaded himself . . . he wasn't happy doing what he was doing and the timing was perfect at Oregon. Coach Green was looking for an assistant; I told him to bring in Tad.

"I kind of had Coach Green's arm twisted behind his back. Tad jumped at it, but what I couldn't figure was he was making six figures and he leaves to make about $15,000 at Oregon."

Turgeon wasn't embellishing either of those salaries, but his point about Boyle was this: "Now, 16 or 17 years later, he's doing what he wants to do - and he's gotten real good at it.

"CU is getting a great person, a guy with great character and a value system, which is most important. He's a very well- rounded basketball ball coach and an excellent recruiter. He's a guy who will be very good with alumni and boosters. He's got great people skills and he develops relationships."

Turgeon and Boyle were together at Jacksonville State (Alabama) and Wichita State - Turgeon as head coach, Boyle as his top assistant. When they arrived in Wichita, the Shockers were foundering. Six seasons later, they played in the Sweet 16 and finished 26-9.

Turgeon ultimately landed at Texas A&M - his current job - and Boyle at Northern Colorado for his first head coaching gig. He was there for four seasons before being introduced Monday as the University of Colorado's successor for Jeff Bzdelik.

"Good coaches never stop trying to get better, and Tad does that," Turgeon said. "He was great as an assistant - extremely loyal, hard working and positive."

Boyle played for two years at KU under Larry Brown, whose hoops resume compares with any on the planet. Brown believes the CU-Boyle fit couldn't be better: "It's an incredible opportunity for him, but a phenomenal hire for them. He's worked hard to get to this point; he's got an amazing background. I'm thrilled to death for him."

Boyle was just as thrilled to land the job. He said he was "very appreciative of (athletic director) Mike Bohn, (search committee chair) Tom McGrath and the search committee for this opportunity."

Talk to enough people in the basketball community and Boyle's deep feelings for his players become a common denominator. Boyle says if there's anything the Buffs will learn about him, it's that he cares about them.

Before driving to Greeley Monday afternoon to tell his UNC players goodbye, Boyle met with CU's returning players. In that meeting, forward Trey Eckloff said Boyle told them of his excitement to be coming to CU, made plans for workouts on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and started getting acquainted with his new team.

"He's a very intelligent man, he knows the game . . . I think he'll do great things for the university," Eckloff said.

Boyle also met individually with several players, among them freshman Alec Burks, who was among players publicly supporting Associate Head Coach Steve McClain to succeed Bzdelik.

Boyle's chief request of Burks is "get to know me . . . then make whatever decision is best for you." He called Burks "an important piece of the puzzle," but added, "they all are . . . CU basketball is bigger than one coach and one player."

Devon Bietzel, who was among the UNC players listening as Boyle bid them an emotional goodbye, said his former coach "really cared about us as people, not just players. That's what made it so easy to play for him. He was really, really good to play for . . . not only a good coach, but a great teacher."

Bietzel and his UNC teammates weren't stunned to learn that Boyle was leaving. "No, I'm not surprised about it," he said, calling Boyle's exit "a decision he made for him and his family. In coaching, that happens. I back his decision and support him in whatever he does."

Boyle's coaching skills, said Bietzel, are very apparent in his preparation: "He does a good job of breaking things down; he lets you know what you should do in every situation. I think a lot of that comes from playing for Larry Brown in college. Coach Boyle puts you in position to makes plays, showcase your skills."

Boyle is not a devotee of the "Princeton offense," a term that Bzdelik often rebuked by saying his was a "Georgetown offense" - one that was patient yet ran when the opportunity was there. Boyle's offense won't be mistaken for either; he wants his CU teams to play relentless defense and "score in the 70s and 80s . . . players like that, fans like that."

Don Meyer, a legendary college basketball coaching figure who now is a special assistant to the president at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., called Boyle "a heckuva coach and a lot better guy. I know that for a fact. I know you have to win at that level, and he'll win the right way."

He called Boyle's hiring "a very wise move on Colorado's part; the test of time will show that. I'm not saying that to kiss anybody's butt; I believe it."

Meyer hasn't coached with Boyle, but has Greeley ties. His in-laws live there. Boyle usually went out of his way to make arrangements for Meyer's father-in-law to attend UNC games - and now Meyer jokingly says Boyle is going to have to do the same for all CU games.

"Knowing Tad, he'll do it," Meyer said. "He's that kind of guy."

Moving from competition in the Big Sky Conference to the Big 12 Conference is a leap of faith. Boyle will face his friend Turgeon's team at least once a year, as well as his alma mater twice a year.

Turgeon admitted it would be odd to bring the Aggies to Boulder next season and see Boyle on the opposite bench. "But I'm just so darn happy for him," Turgeon said. "He told me at Wichita that this was the job he really wanted."

Boyle will face challenges of a magnitude he didn't encounter in Greeley, but Turgeon said they won't catch Boyle unprepared: "Everywhere you go there are challenges - whether it's building a practice gym, academic (admissions) challenges, whatever.

"Every fan base expects to win. Players expect to win. And what's more, Tad expects it. That's a good combination. Tad will find a way to be successful."

Brown, who once owned a home in Boulder and says he "kind of adopted the city," called the CU job "one of the most underrated in the country. Now, there's lot of neat things going for it; Jeff did a good there . . . it's got good academics and is in a great conference.

"I've been lucky. I've been around some great basketball minds - Bill Self (Kansas), John Calipari (Kentucky), Alvin Gentry (Phoenix Suns), Greg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs), to name a few. A lot of quality guys have helped me coach.

"Tad has the same qualities those guys have. His kids play hard and unselfishly. They guard and play smart. He had those qualities as a player and he values them as a coach.

"He'll also make that program part of the whole community, and that's important at a school. The football coach, the women's coaches . . . they'll all love him. I love college athletics; it's more of a we thing than (in the NBA). You support everything. Tad will do that. This is an incredible opportunity for him and just as an incredible opportunity for Colorado."

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU

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