“I’m pleased to say I am here for life at Michigan State,”
“I am going to be a lifer,”
“This is what I’m going to be. And I’m damn proud of it.”
Those were Izzo's words during his press conference two summers ago after the NBA had tried to sweep him off his feet.
Izzo made another statement on Wednesday night, but he didn’t speak it.
He claimed victory No. 400, as the Spartans beat Minnesota at the Breslin Center. The win meant much more to Izzo than improving Michigan State to 17-4 and moving the Spartans into a first-place tie in the Big Ten.
The win makes Izzo only the fourth coach in Big Ten history to win that many games. Only Bob Knight of Indiana, Gene Keady of Purdue and Lou Henson of Illinois have more wins in the Big Ten.
Izzo could pass Henson next year for third on the list. And if Izzo plans to coach another 10 years, he should become the winningest coach in Big Ten history.
The coach from the Upper Peninsula already has something special that the coaches ahead of him do not. Izzo has only served as a head coach at Michigan State. Henson coached at New Mexico State before and after Illinois, Keady coached Western Kentucky before taking the Purdue job, and Knight coached Army before and Texas Tech after his tenure at Indiana.
With the seconds counting down against Minnesota and the Izzone chanting “400,″ Izzo teared up on the bench. The win obviously meant a lot to him, but it’s his team that wanted to give it to him the most.
“It’s a great feeling to be a part of. I love that guy,” senior Draymond Green said. “Coach don’t get emotional about a lot of stuff. Usually when he’s getting emotional, it’s about something for somebody else. It’s great to see him get emotional about something he accomplished.”
Center Derrick Nix knew that his coach would appreciate the win. Izzo doesn’t hold back with his emotions with his team.
“I knew he’d cry at the end,” Nix said to ESPN. “He always wears his emotions on his sleeve.”
The team surprised Izzo at the postgame press conference when they barged in and presented him with a signed ball that read “400." The team all took turns hugging and shaking Izzo’s hand, a testament to the difference between the team’s chemistry this year and last year.
“I know it meant something to them,” Izzo said. “I didn’t realize it before.”
It meant something to a lot of people. For Spartan fans, it means they have a coach who will guide their team throughout the next decade.
A Spartan for life.