Tom Izzo began crafting his reputation amongst the nation’s most talented coaches and ambassadors—at least within coaching circles—in 1995.
Despite the 2009 championship loss to North Carolina, the Michigan State Spartans' coach felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Making it to the Final Four when it’s hosted in your own backyard is a rare feat; and make no mistake about it—Izzo had had his eye on that weekend ever since it was announced that Detroit would be the host.
If Coach Izzo were to explain the astonishing amount of assistant coaches who went on to find head coaching jobs of their own he would probably defer credit with straight-shooting wit like only he can. With humbleness and candor, it would be something along the lines of how it’s only proof of how lucky he was to have such tremendous coaches that were merely undiscovered for the most part.
If you ask all these former Spartans assistants, I’m certain most, if not all, would give direct acknowledgment to their former boss for molding them into coaches and program-builders capable of running their own Division I team.
I’m not sure there is another Coach in the country that has produced more D-I coaches than Tom Izzo. There are many branches that extend from his coaching tree with many more to likely emerge in the future.
He would be the last to admit the details of his sterling record in East Lansing. Among Izzo’s achievements:
• National Championship
• Five Final Four appearances
• 12 straight (soon to be 13) NCAA tournament appearances
• Four National Coach of the Year Awards
• Six Big Ten championships
A closer look reveals even greater proof Tom Izzo is one of the greatest NCAA basketball coaches of all time. Four of those Final Four showings were accomplished in just eight years, including three consecutive, which has only been accomplished by Mike Krzyzewski and Ben Howland.
The former D-II All-American guard at Northern Michigan University has kept his dogged loyalty to the program he put his blood, sweat and tears into building. NBA teams have called and offered him a job but he respectfully declined.
Izzo is among the most gracious and classy coaches in any sport. And he would never accept recognition bestowed upon him for how important he is to the University.
But MSU fans, alumni, boosters and the rest of the Spartans family know how fortunate they are to have the Iron Mountain, Michigan native as their Coach and loathe the day he decides to move on.
One facet of the historic program he's built in East Lansing that I know he's proud of is the amount of assistant coaches and staff now leading other D-I programs.