O'Donnell: Bzdelik to Pelicans; Arkush back for 32nd season of "Pro Football Weekly"

  • Jim O'Donnell says Jeff Bzdelik, the Prospect High grad (Class of '71), is deep in negotiations to take over as defensive lead for Alvin Gentry, Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Jim O'Donnell says Jeff Bzdelik, the Prospect High grad (Class of '71), is deep in negotiations to take over as defensive lead for Alvin Gentry, Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans. Associated Press File Photo

Updated 7/20/2019 9:09 PM

SIGNING WILL BE SUCH sweet payback for Jeff Bzdelik, the Prospect High grad (Class of '71) who disconnected as associate head coach of the Houston Rockets in May.

Bzdelik -- who got caught in a predictable panic attack by the ego-immersed tandem of owner Tilman Fertitta and GM Daryl Morey -- is deep in negotiations to take over as defensive lead for Alvin Gentry, Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.


Brains behind the coup is David Griffin, the Pelicans new exec VP of basketball and architect of the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA championship.

It is believed that Bzdelik turned down offers from the Lakers, the Bulls and the Grizzlies, among others, after his strained walkaway from the Rockets.

Since Bzdelik's final deal with Houston pays through August, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski isn't expected to make the New Orleans click official until sometime around Labor Day.

JIM KEZIOS AND HUB ARKUSH are set to launch their 32nd season of "Pro Football Weekly" in late August with the capability of reaching a record 85 million homes nationwide.

That's not easy with the NFL's Stalinesque control of TV encroachment on almost a home-by-home basis.

Joining Arkush once again on the NBCSCH-based panel will be Dan Hampton, Dave Wannstedt and field judge Pat Boyle.

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Kezios is the super salesman who first scaled local sports antennae when he juiced Mike Ditka's original $10,000 per-season deal with WBBM-AM (780) to more than $60,000 at the old WMAQ-AM (670) one year before Super Bowl 20.

ERIC PETERSON'S DAILY HERALD piece on the 30th anniversary of the survivable crash landing of United Airlines Flight 232 at Sioux City was a reminder that among the 184 (of 296 aboard) who lived were Mike Matz and Jerry Schemmel.

Matz was an Olympic equestrian who went on to train Barbaro, the ill-fated winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby. The colt had to be put down eight months after sustaining catastrophic injuries at the gate of the Preakness.

Schemmel, 59, is in his tenth season as the radio play-by-play voice of the Colorado Rockies.

Capt. Al Haynes of Seattle and the late Denny Fitch of Elk Grove -- an off-duty UAL flight instructor who was deadheading home that day -- have long been cited as the heroes of the harrowing hydraulic-less feat.


Schemmel later wrote a book titled, "Chosen to Live."


The Golf Channel's coverage of the opening rounds of the British Open proved that it's extremely difficult to cogently track a 156-man field with few static points of reference -- other than the seaside frustrations of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. The dawn patrol will enjoy Sunday's windup (NBC-5, 1:30 a.m.; leader Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood tee at 7:47 a.m.). … Game, boys: Khalil Mack is one of only four players to rate a 99 -- the highest possible -- in "Madden NFL 20," out on August 2. The others: Aaron Donald, DeAndre Hopkins and Bobby Wagner. (Cover Chief Patrick Mahomes is a 97; Mitch Trubisky merited a -- gulp -- 75, with Matt Nagy's strange magic probably costing him a David Copperfield 10.) …

Diamond Doug Glanville continues to quietly shine as a baseball analyst on NBCSCH. If anything, the Ivy League engineering grad is probably too thoughtful; rhythm-breaking studio hosts have to learn that they're air traffic controllers, not county fair auctioneers …

Speaking of NBCSCH's MLB wraparounds, an appearance by Frank Thomas is becoming rarer than a Julie Andrews TV special. The Big Absence must have a "Go My Own Way" clause in his contract …

John McDonough, Jay Blunk and staff continue to imagineer elements of the Blackhawks Convention, set to open Friday at The Hilton Chicago (blackhawks.com/convention). "The Emergency Goalie Challenge" -- an escape-room experience -- could prove to be as curious as Roe Conn's WGN-AM (720) afternoon remote …

The Big Ten Network is boasting about carrying "more than 40 football games" of the slumping conference this autumn. That's probably 30 too many, unless they're Jim Harbaugh losses …

Also from the Big 10-4, with his whiskers of wisdom, Lovie Smith is looking more and more like the late comedian-turned-activist Dick Gregory. (Who once, incidentally, was a champion middle-distance runner at Southern Illinois.) …

Forbes noted that Luol Deng has built a real estate portfolio worth close to $125 million. That figure will go up when he and Derrick Rose close on a $25M partnership involving 23 buildings in the Chicago area … WGN alum Sam Panayotovich is back in town after a 15-month tap dance with Vegas Stats and Info (vsin.com). He retains youth, talent and enough vowels to tax Vanna White … Longtime Chicago sports voice Mark Farina is plugging his "Casey & the Flying Fortress: The True Story of a World War II Bomber Pilot and the Crew" (amazon.com) … And tropical equator Ozzie Guillen, on playing baseball in the heat: "One hundred degrees, why not one hundred and twenty? The hotter the better. Just play the game."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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