Spartan Hoopla: Tom Izzo Still on Cleveland Cavaliers' Wish List

Adam Biggers@@AdamBiggers81Senior Analyst IIJune 7, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 03:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans looks on from the sideline in the first half 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

It seems the never-ending rumors involving Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo, and how he might leave East Lansing for the NBA, just won't die.

On Monday, the News-Herald, a news source out of Northern Ohio, reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers reached out to Mr. March.

Here we go again.

Izzo, as usual, deflected the claims. He sent a text message to The Lansing State Journal staff saying the report was, "more baloney than substance."

Michigan State's Athletic Director Mark Hollis told the Associated Press on Monday afternoon that the NBA team, struggling to hold on to its superstar—and sanity—did not approach Izzo with a contract.

But Hollis said Izzo communicated with Cleveland's brass—so it's just the predictable talk most have grown accustomed to.

Later Monday evening, it was reported by the Detroit News that Izzo evaded questions about the Cavaliers' $30 million contract tender while on Jack Ebling's radio show.

The current Spartan coach said that he didn't want to comment on the matter—which leads to more speculation.

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For some reason, Spartan fans are taking the recent Izzo news to heart. When the rumor initially swirled several weeks ago, most followers shrugged it off with a laugh.

Even local radio stations are buzzing about it, and they're not sports-talk shows found on AM frequencies.

WHNN Oldies 96, a Saginaw-area based operation, discussed the issue between songs for what seemed like 10 minutes Monday evening.

The rumor is growing legs.

Hollis, as he should have done years ago, must offer a contract that Izzo can't refuse.

The AD needs to brand Izzo with "lifetime Spartan status" and be done with it.

That would put any whispers of the coach's departure to rest. Hollis, who has been MSU's AD for nearly three years, is in serious danger of ruining his favorable reputation.

His job, and head, will be sought after by angry mobs cloaked in green and white if the university loses the man who put their basketball program on the map.

The Spartan coach makes just under $3 million a year. Although a hefty sum, it's a far cry from what Dan Gilbert will likely bid in an attempt to lure Izzo to the Lake Erie shores.

Gilbert, an MSU alum, has deep pockets, and is known for his lavish spending.

It could come down to who ups the ante.

But Izzo isn't one to be enticed by the association's grandeur illusions. He has integrity, pride, and loyalty—loyalty to the program that gave him a shot to become what he is today.

Izzo succeeded his mentor Jud Heathcote in 1995. He took an average program and transformed it into a national powerhouse almost overnight. 

Izzo continues to weave new lore on a year-by-year basis.

Before he was designated as head coach, Spartan fans hung onto the memory of Magic Johnson cutting the down the nets after beating Larry Bird's Indiana State Sycamores in 1979.

Fans crossed their fingers that Izzo would make their team a contender once again.

Now, the Spartans contend for a title every season, and have been to the Final Four six times in the last 12 years.

His resume is superior, and that's why organizations foam at the mouth when dialing up the Mayor of East Lansing, pleading for him to whip their men into shape.

The University of Kentucky, Arizona, and Oregon have all been interested in Izzo at one time or another.

After his national championship in 2000, the Atlanta Hawks offered him a position.

And he has turned down each and every team—every time.

"I don't have an interest [in the NBA] until I win another championship," Izzo told ESPN.com.


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