Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Izzo should stay at Michigan State
By Dick Vitale ESPN.com
There's lots of talk involving the Cleveland Cavaliers' interest in Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. According to reports, an offer has made by Cavaliers owner and Spartan alum Dan Gilbert, estimated at five years and $6 million per season, plus use of a private jet.
Can you blame Gilbert for loving Izzo? We had Izzo at our Dickie V gala, and he was Mr. Popularity! He has such a special way with people. Izzo and his wife, Lupe, are as good as it gets.
Izzo's vivacious personality fits perfectly in the college game.
I do have one question about this situation: Why would a coach who is at an elite school with a chance to win the national title next season leave to go to the Cavaliers? Even if they re-sign LeBron James -- and my gut feeling is that will happen -- why would Izzo leave a place where he is comfortable and revered by the fans?
Even with LeBron, look at what happened to Mike Brown. He won 127 games over the past two seasons, including one 66-16 campaign, yet he still got the ziggy. Losing your job is inevitable in the NBA, unless you are Phil Jackson and your résumé includes 10 championships.
Once you get fired, your résumé is tarnished and damaged. Just go ask the former college coaches who gave the NBA a shot. They still hear about the fact that they weren't successful at the pro level.
What is wrong with being a top guy and doing a phenomenal job on the college level? Guys like John Wooden, Bob Knight and Dean Smith did pretty well on the collegiate sidelines throughout their Hall of Fame careers. Mr. Izzo has made mega dollars in East Lansing already and that would continue if he stayed at Michigan State.
These coaches are not exactly starving.
When it is all said and done, Izzo will turn down the overtures from Gilbert. I believe he is an outstanding college coach, and with next season's team led by Kalin Lucas, he has a legitimate shot to hoist the national championship trophy again.
Another reason he should stay in the college game: Izzo is as intense as it gets. He pours his heart out on every possession. Try doing that 48 minutes a night, 100 games a season. That's three college campaigns rolled into one. It takes its toll -- physically, mentally and emotionally.
My friends, there is nothing wrong when you are leading the crème de la crème -- the elite programs like Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky and now Michigan State, where Izzo has made six Final Four appearances in 12 years. Why would you give that up, jeopardizing your résumé? Why move on to the league because of ego and dollars?
A few more millions per year will not change Tom Izzo's style of living.
I wish Izzo the best. He is a class act, a man whom I have admired for years. Now he has a decision ahead of him. Personally, I hope he stays at Michigan State, where he has carved his niche and can comfortably finish out his career as a future Hall of Famer.