I was not surprised to learn of Tom Izzo's decision to stay at Michigan State. There was a lot of talk involving the Cleveland Cavaliers' interest in Izzo, and the offer made by Cavaliers owner and Spartan alum Dan Gilbert, estimated at $6 million per season, was certainly generous.
Then again, Izzo is not starving -- he's making around $3 million per season!
The bottom line is simple ... Izzo is a college coach who has made a name for himself in East Lansing, Mich. I don't think he would have enjoyed going from 35-40 games during a successful college season, to around 100 in the NBA if you add up preseason, the 82-game regular-season campaign and the playoffs.
I've been told that this is the last time Izzo will consider an NBA job. That is great news for the Spartans, baby!
I coached in the NBA and the stress and strain for a coach who lived and died on every possession was tough. With Izzo's mentality and tenacity, it would have been difficult. He is as intense as it gets. He pours his heart out on each and every possession. Try doing that 48 minutes a night, times 100 games a season; it is three seasons in one compared to a college campaign.
I understand the lure of coaching on the pro sidelines. The idea of possibily coaching the best player in the game today, LeBron James, is thrilling. I believe if LeBron was definitely going to be in Cleveland next season, there may have been a different decision.
Honestly, I think this was the right call. Izzo belongs as coach of the Spartans, where he has led the program to six Final Fours over the past 12 years. I do have to ask, why would a coach, who is at an elite school with a chance to win a national title next season, leave to go to the NBA? Even with LeBron, look at what happened to Mike Brown? He won 127 games over the last two seasons, including one 66-16 campaign, yet he still got the ziggy.
I believe Izzo's decision will preserve his legacy. I think about Rick Pitino and honestly believe he would be in the Hall of Fame right now if he had stayed at Kentucky and did not go to the Celtics.
To me, Izzo is a future Hall of Famer, an outstanding college coach who wants to hold the gold trophy in Houston next season. Led by Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Draymond Green, Delvin Roe and Korie Lucious, he has the experience and talent to make another run at the national championship.
I know the fans in East Lansing are jumping for joy. Izzo is a class act, a man that I have enjoyed knowing for many years. I was so thrlled when he was involved as an honoree at my Dickie V gala. That is the kind of person he is. He and his wife Lupe are class personified.
Now that he has decided to stay at Michigan State, he can comfortably finish out his career in East Lansing, with an eventual stop in Springfield, Mass., as a future Hall of Famer.