The star of press conference day in Kansas City on Wednesday was Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman, whose team plays Oklahoma tonight. The once-disgraced, now-redeemed coach who is back in the NCAA Tournament after a 15-year hiatus in which he served a 10-year virtual suspension from college basketball.
By now you’ve heard of Bozeman’s story, how he took over at Cal at the age of 28 in mid-season, part of a mutinee that got coach Lou Campanelli fired. Then Bozeman coached Cal and Jason Kidd to a victory over Duke in the NCAA Tournament to reach the 1993 Sweet 16. Finally, Bozeman was found guilty of paying money to players’ families, and the NCAA came down hard on him.
Bozeman has found work again at Morgan State, and Wednesday no coach or player was as interesting or as passionate as Bozeman, who joked and told stories and talked poignantly about how he had screwed up his life.
Bozeman’s stories about his father were most telling. His one regret is that his father didn’t live long enough to see him get the job at Morgan State.
“I just know he’s a great man,” said Morgan State’s Marquise Kately. “He’s a great coach, great person … he let us know the situation (at Cal), but, you know, for the most part, we don’t talk” about that.
If I was an athletic director, I wouldn’t hire Bozeman. Too much baggage. Too much temptation. Too much unbelievability.
But the NCAA Tournament is a more interesting place with his team in the field.