There it was, Tom Izzo would owe Michigan State $500,000 if he packed his bags and moves to Cleveland taking over the Cavaliers. While the dollar amount would have the majority of us wondering how we’d ever come up with such an amount, the fact a Michigan State alum (Dan Gilbert)is ready to pay the beloved basketball coach $6 million a year ($24-$30 million overall) to coach the team with the best player in the NBA could just be too much to pass up.
Yes, Tom Izzo is cherished by Michigan State fans and loved by the schools administration for the work he’d done. He’s said no to previous NBA and college programs that have shown interest, but all that can be thrown out the window when a person sits down and looks at their long term plans and that of their family.
While a lot of talk early talk has focused on LeBron James having input on his next coach, it’s Dan Gilbert who holds the purse strings for both James and Izzo. James can leave Cleveland but would face making less money on the court and also more scrutiny from the media off it. Izzo can leave Michigan State and fans, while upset would understand the chance to secure his and the families’ future for years to come is just too good to pass up.
So can Michigan State keep Izzo as coach? Yes, give him the best deal in college basketball and sign him up for life. That’s right, give him a lifetime contract. Over the past 12 seasons Izzo has placed his team in the Final Four six times. Only two other coaches have done that with each of them being considered two of the best of all time. Tom Izzo is in that class.
But when you look at the big picture it will be hard for Izzo to say no this time. At the age of 55, his chances of taking on the challenges of the NBA are about to run out. Cleveland is not Atlanta in player personnel and everyone believes James will win at least one championship if not more in the coming years. This is Tom Izzo’s perfect storm and Dan Gilbert is willing and ready to sign the checks.
But one thing Spartan fans have learned about their basketball coach, is he’s not so easy to read. When you think he’s ready to go left he’ll go right. Will this be another one of those chances Tom Izzo is shown a greener pasture only to say his heart and soul are in East Lansing with Spartan green being stronger than the green ink used on all the Benjamin’s ready to be given to him by Dan Gilbert?
As with most talk about a coach leaving there is a good sign talks are farther along than everyone knows. Both owners and coaches have their people reaching out to each other getting a feel for the other. Michigan State fans can rest assure athletic director Mark Hollis will do all in his power to keep Izzo on campus for many more years, but like many before him, Tom Izzo may feel this is his best shot for the all the gold and an NBA Championship to add to his already great career.