He won a national championship at North Carolina. His college roommate was Michael Jordan. He climbed the coaching ladder all the way to the SEC. Everything about Buzz Peterson's resume is "big time". But it didn't take long for me to find out that Buzz had the furthest thing from a big time attitude. Thanks to David Bennett telling Buzz that he should do his coaches show with us, we got an opportunity to do a CCU basketball coaches show for the first time. I have to admit I was a little bit nervous heading into the first season. After all, Buzz was used to ESPN and a coaches show that had a huge staff and plenty of resources. It didn't take long for all of us to realize that coach Peterson was just like one of us. Sure, I'd be a little bit embarassed when I'm setting up the tripod in Radford, Virginia or High Point, North Carolina to tape our coaches show segment, but Buzz never looked down on us. I can recall about four or five times where a tape or microphone wouldn't be working and we'd have to reshoot. As a matter of fact, I always got the feeling he enjoyed the challenges we faced in putting a show on the air each and every Sunday.
It was amazing to see the switch that was turned on in the middle of his first season at CCU. The team really struggled in December and early January, but all of the suddent the Chants bought in to Peterson's attitude towards playing winning basketball and what ensued was a magical run that led CCU to within nine seconds of an NCAA Tournament berth. That wasn't the most impressive thing I witnessed in the Buzz Peterson era. I remember being on the road and Coastal was on their way to a double digit loss. Jack Leasure hit the floor hustling after a loose ball and his body was sprawled on the ground. All four of his teammates on the floor rushed over to help their teammate up. That particular moment, which happened probably hundreds of times over the past two seasons, really to me defines the Buzz Peterson era at Coastal Carolina.
When the first Buzz leaving Coastal rumors started following the 2005/06 season, I learned an important lesson. When stories broke that Peterson was packing his bags for the College of Charleston and that "the deal was done", I was worried that I was missing the scoop. All along, Buzz had kept in contact with me and was up front about everything that was going on. The temptation was there to go with unreliable sources and hope you get the big story, but during the entire four week span that story developed, I only had one source - Buzz Peterson. As he was in the midst of major decisions that impacted not only his career, but his entire family, he always made it a point to keep me in the loops - something he didn't have to do.
It's a bittersweet feeling for me. On the one hand, I'm thrilled that Buzz has an opportunity to be on the ground level of building a winning franchise in the NBA in his home state of North Carolina and to work alongside his close friend Michael Jordan. Trust me on this - Buzz has a great basketball mind. If you spent time in the edit bay watching game film, you would pick up on this in a hurry. On the other side, I am saying goodbye to one of the true highlights of my career (thank goodness I am still getting to spend Sunday's talking Coastal football with David Bennett!) I hope that we get the opportunity to continue to promote CCU basketball through our coaches show no matter who the new coach is, but I will always be grateful to Buzz for giving me a chance to sit by his side and talk CCU hoops. It's the same thing with Coach Bennett - when you sit next to a tremendous coach, great motivator and an outstanding communicator, you get that little extra boost of adrenaline to bring your "A" game even if you are working on three hours sleep on a Sunday morning.
I really think that Buzz could still be at Coastal Carolina. If there was a shovel in the ground in the proposed CCU arena, things might be different. I don't know if certain people on campus appreciated the impact that Buzz had on taking Chanticleer basketball to the next level. If I could use one word to sum up Buzz Peterson it would be class. Even though he's back in the big time, I know that if I set up that tripod at Bobcats Arena by myself and do an interview with him sometime soon, he'll have a big smile and we'll laugh about the old coaches shows and talk some more basketball.