Spartan fans seem to be half up-in-arms, half no-freaking-way about this blog post from the Indy Star, which lists Izzo as a potential candidate for the IU vacancy. The specter of Izzo leaving State would be unpalatable regardless of his destination; that he would be leaving for another Big Ten program would certainly be insult to injury. Hysteria aside, I think there’s no way this ends up happening.
First of all, God love ‘im, but the man has an ego. This was pretty clearly borne out during the most farcical portions of our football coaching search two Decembers ago, when it didn’t seem entirely impossible that Izzo’s office would be moving a quarter-mile east on Shaw Lane. He could have shot down the rumors entirely with a simple statement; but I think it’s pretty clear that he was immensely enjoying the ridiculous idea that his coaching genius transcended basketball. Anyway, his ego is stroked at MSU to a degree he’d probably never attain at IU. Quite rightly, Izzo holds near-deity status in East Lansing; while the past few seasons certainly have been disappointing, his overall record is unimpeachable, and the MSU basketball program has been more successful under him than it has been at any other time in its history. That success has brought him a sort of invincibility amongst the fan base; coaches at other schools would have been subject to far more criticism than Izzo faced after the debacles at Iowa and Penn State earlier this season. He’s earned residual goodwill; if he decided to leave, he’d start from scratch again (aside from the first-year honeymoon, of course). At the risk of being too psychoanalytical, I think he enjoys being adored at State too much to consider leaving. If he decided to leave for another program in the same conference, all of that adoration would turn to absolute scorn.
Nor is Indiana an ideal job at this point in time. It’s pretty safe to say that the program is going to face significant sanctions in the wake of Kelvin Sampson’s indiscretions. It’s purely speculative as to what the sanctions will entail, and college coaches have been burned before by sanctions which were more severe than expected. (Dennis Franchione at Alabama and Tommy Amaker at Michigan come to mind; it didn’t help that both of them were crappy coaches, however.) It’s very difficult to imagine Izzo abandoning a stable, and great, situation at MSU for uncertainty at IU.
Absent sanctions, the IU job is at least as attractive as the MSU one. While State probably has better facilities, IU easily has stronger tradition, is at least our equal in terms of fan base support, and probably offers greater recruiting prospects. The prospect of sanctions certainly makes the job more unattractive, but it’d still be a great gig for someone like Tom Crean. I certainly would rather he stay at Marquette, because I would love to see him at the helm in East Lansing someday; but if I were him, I’d jump to IU without a second thought.
Anyway, I’m really not all that concerned about this; the likelihood of Izzo leaving State is minuscule. I just wish he’d learn the lesson from last December’s charade and confirm his intentions as soon as possible.