Tom Izzo Leavin' for Clevelan'!?

Ryan LarimoreContributor IJune 7, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 03:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans talks with Raymar Morgan #2 from the sideline while taking on the Butler Bulldogs during the National Semifinal game of the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship on April 3, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Most Spartan fans would like to retain the services of Tom Izzo until he is done coaching. Without a doubt a top five coach in college basketball, and again poised to make it deep into the big dance next spring, Izzo has some thinking to do with the Cleveland Cavaliers knocking at his door.

Cleveland has reportedly just offered Izzo $30 million over five years to coach the Cavaliers. On average that doubles the salary Izzo is making now. Izzo is under contract until 2016, but if there were ever a time to take a stab at the NBA, this would be it.

I don’t think money is a big concern of his, but Izzo is 55—by no means is that ancient, especially for a coach, but his time to try something new could be running a little short. I certainly don’t see Izzo going to another school, so the only way to go would be pro. To that I say, “Why not?”

Spartan fans would be sad to see him go. No one represents Michigan State better than Izzo does, and he is beloved on campus and in the community.

A lot of people, some of them wise, have said, “If you love him, set him free.” That could be a good motto for MSU fans to adapt in this instance, if some things work out in Cleveland. Izzo wouldn’t leave JUST to leave, he would have to be set up for success.

Of course, you would have to be out of your mind to take the job in Cleveland as a first time NBA coach without LeBron James. As it stands now, even with James the Cavs have some work to do if they want to reach the finals next season. Without James the Cavs are likely cellar dwellers so I believe the “LeBron Sweepstakes” will basically decide what Izzo does. If he returns to Michigan’s jock strap Izzo will be coaching in the city with two buildings and a payphone.

The NBA is not a place of stability, especially for an inexperienced (at the pro level) coach like Tom Izzo. Izzo will not have a problem coaching X’s and O’s. The real test in making the leap is motivating professional players.

You can’t take freedoms away from the players, and you can’t take away their money. In some cases—if they are making enough and your owner is stubborn enough—you can’t even take away their minutes. Izzo has earned the utmost respect in East Lansing, but that respect doesn’t usually transfer to the NBA.

If Izzo were to leave for Cleveland, I have to believe he would not close any doors behind him. He could easily make the jump and find that A) He’s not ready for it; B) He’s not cut out for it; or C) He just doesn’t get through to the players.

If that’s the case Izzo would probably be welcomed back to MSU to assume his old job. Meaning the replacement coach for Izzo would most likely be a stop gap, probably someone from the Izzo coaching tree who would be easily let go in favor of Izzo’s return, but still keep MSU at a high level of competition.

There aren’t many college coaches out there like Izzo, so if MSU can get him back after an NBA stint they would go right back to the way things were. That’s a story for when things get more official, though.

If Izzo makes the leap, will he be a success in the NBA? Click here to vote!