It's been a long 9 days, kids. I held off on writing anything about the Izzo situation mostly because I was afraid of jinxing it...but in the past few days, I've had multiple inquiries about the status of my mental health, so now I want to offer my take on IZZOWATCH 2010.
When the news broke that the Cavs owner was interested in Izzo, I didn't pay much attention at first. This happens all the time. NBA teams and other schools show interest and it normally never leads to anything. Some reporter asks the coach what he is going to do and he always replies that he hasn't been contacted but is happy at Michigan State and still has work to do there...and then the whole thing goes away.
Only this time it didn't go away. As the days progressed, I found myself to be a woman obsessed with this story. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on--news articles, message boards, Twitter posts, the works. I spent a good deal of time scouring the internet for any little hint or sign that this was just another blip on the radar and Coach Izzo would NEVER take this job. Not now. Not with a strong recruiting class and a boatload of amazing veteran talent. Not with a potential national championship in sight.
Much to my dismay, it just got bigger. Rumors flew everywhere--first he was taking the job, then he wasn't. He was meeting with the team, then he wasn't. I started to become frustrated with the number of "sources" that threw in their two cents. Half said he was gone, half said he'd stay. I was in agony. The first week of consideration drove me nuts. I just wanted to know.
It felt like Izzo and the entire MSU community were going through a bad break-up. Like, Izzo is the boyfriend who needs to decide to get married or move on, so he takes a "break" from his significant other to figure it out. Along the way, he meets a hot young thing (in this case, LeBron James) who seems to have everything he would want or need. As part of the MSU community, I felt like the pathetic girlfriend, begging and pleading for him to stay, trying to show him what he would miss out on if he left. It was awful.
I want to be clear--Tom Izzo owes me nothing. Tom Izzo owes Michigan State nothing. The man gives and gives and gives. He attends dozens of functions, promotes the university, treats everyone he meets with respect and does everything the "right" way. In the world of college athletics, almost everyone is looking for the loophole or the way around the rules--except Izzo. He's done everything that's been asked of him--and more. Whatever success he has, he's earned.
Tom Izzo had (and still has) every right to consider any and all opportunities that cross his path. He deserves to advance his career and follow his dreams just like anyone else.
Admittedly, my reasons for wanting him to stay are purely selfish. I love Michigan State. My time there gave me many amazing memories and even more amazing people. I think it's a special place and want others to know just how much it means to me.
I love college basketball. I like it when my team wins. It's fun. I enjoy it. It makes me proud of my school--and having someone like Coach Izzo representing us increases that pride even more.
I love Coach Izzo because he's not only a great coach, he's a great man. He makes a difference not only because he wins, but because of the values he embodies--integrity, humility, strong work ethic, honesty, etc.--values that I aspire to live by.
Some reports accused him of taking his time because he "wanted the attention." Never, at any time, did I ever believe that was true. He took his time because this was a huge, life-changing decision for both him and his family.
My relief and joy were immeasurable when he finally took to the podium last night and announced that he is "a Spartan for life."
Yes you are, Coach. And we're awfully glad to have you.