Tuesday evening was a time for celebration and relief for Spartan fans – Tom Izzo had declared himself a Spartan for life. His record and success in the NCAA tournament have created this situation, and he undoubtedly deserves much of the credit that goes with all of those wins. As a graduate of a different university, I have great respect for the success Izzo has had with Michigan State. It is this same success that I now look differently at, especially after seeing how the Tom Izzo brand took a big hit this week.
As mentioned in previous blogs, I went to Syracuse, and my legendary basketball coach of choice – Jim Boeheim – has 829 wins or 73 from Bobby Knight’s all-time total. In a recent interview he did around his 800th win, he mentioned that he had received an offer to coach the Atlanta Hawks (same team that offered Izzo a contract in 2000) in the early ’80s. This was a revelation to Orange fans who had considered Boeheim a Syracuse-lifer. Boeheim has also had a great deal of run-ins with the media, but he always calls out the media member to their face, not hiding behind blanket statements.
What I’m trying to get at is that accountability should no longer be a word used in the home locker room at the Breslin Center. During his conveniently timed press conference, Izzo and MSU brass put the blame on the media for inappropriately handling their roles over the past two weeks. Izzo’s rambling speech quickly turned from celebratory to accusatory towards media and those who thought he would leave. Nobody asked Izzo to point and lecture media while he was running a youth camp. Nobody told Izzo to stay silent until his primetime news conference.
I can’t help but think what these latest moves did for a lot of us once-neutral fans that respected Izzo for the work he has done with the Spartans. With his recent actions it is hard to separate the coach from the personality, from the team. There’s no doubt that college basketball season will heal all wounds, but until then, Cavs and Spartans fans will weight the consequences of one person’s actions.