Izzo smart to not kill Cavs coaching rumors

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spt-100607-izzo_standard.jpgOf course Tom Izzo likes the limelight. It’s crucial to building a top-flight program. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As rumors continue to swirl around Michigan State’s coach being lured by the Cleveland Cavaliers (LeBron James?), there aren’t many details to further the story.

The Cavs are interested, but haven’t made an offer. The job would presumably be for more money and could have an added bonus (coach LeBron), but there’s not really a whole lot out there.

I’m guessing Izzo stays, regardless of the offer and who it involves coaching. Frankly, he should stay. He’s built the Spartans into one of the true college basketball powerhouses – six Final Fours and one title since 1999 – and he’ll have one of the top teams next season as well.

So why not just slam down all these rumors? For one, Izzo had this quote a few weeks ago in a FanHouse story:

“I’ve never been one to say never,” Izzo said. “My good friend, Nick Saban … they’re still hitting him on [saying] ‘I’ll never be the Alabama coach.’

“I don’t say that, but I’m happy where I’m at. It’s a compliment if people think you’re good enough to look at jobs, but I think my loyalty — if people that are recruiting against me ever say he won’t be there, there are very few people that haven’t moved in 27 years.”

Then there’s this column from Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg, who says Izzo won’t shoot down the rumors because he likes the attention.

I think he loves this attention. Absolutely loves it. He loves knowing that the NBA teams might want Tom Izzo from Iron Mountain, Mich. But also, I think he loves that other people know it.
I think he wants everybody at MSU to understand that he could leave at any time. I think he gets a violent reaction to the mere notion of being taken for granted — by his administration, his fans or the media.

Coaches do have huge egos. Comes with the territory. But this isn’t simply to stroke his own ego. It also boosts his program and helps with recruiting.

Here’s the equation: Coach + LeBron = fawning high school prospect. The more Izzo’s name is attached to King James’ name, the better it is for him and Michigan State. Simple as that.

Izzo did the same with the Kentucky rumors in 2009, keeping his name in the mix to bolster his reputation as one of the game’s premier coaches (duh) and thus elevate his program.

But that’s all he’s doing. He’ll be at Michigan State for the long haul.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.