College basketball benefits most from Izzo's decision to stay
"I'm pleased to say that I'm here for life at Michigan State," he declared on Tuesday.
The Cleveland Cavaliers would seem to be the great losers, and the Spartans the great winners, in the endgame of this melodrama -- aside, that is, from Izzo himself, if he's as convinced as he sounds of the wisdom of his choice.
To my mind, however, college basketball is the biggest beneficiary. The sport has descended into chaos since Duke and Butler staged their final for the ages 10 weeks ago. First came the usual springtime exodus of the one-and-done crowd. Then UConn and USC were cited for their compliance issues. Whereupon the game, powerless in the face of conference realignment driven by football, has had to wait on the fates of scores of its major programs.
With its multiple and perennial upheavals, the college hoops relies more and more on its fixed points, the coaches who at least hint at the constancy and stature of the man who died only days ago,
In his emotional press conference on Tuesday evening, Izzo fondly invoked Coach K and Boeheim, along with
"Guys that kind of withstood the test of time," Izzo said, stating his desire to follow in their footsteps. "Guys who were tempted by different things but decided their heart is where it is."
Over the past dozen years Izzo has quietly become an Institutional. His Spartans have strung together 13 straight NCAA appearances, six of them culminating in Final Fours and one in a national title. His program has never found itself on probation. He has forged a signature style, basketball in pads, that befits the conference in which his team plays and his lifelong friendship with
Now comes news that all of it remains intact.
"I'm gonna be a lifer," Izzo said. "This is what I'm gonna be. And damn proud of it."
A good thing, for his departure would have been as punishing as the whack a Spartan gets from a student manager during Michigan State's notorious War Drill. As much as the Spartans are glad they were spared that blow, I'm glad the sport was too.