My take on Coach Izzo and the Cavs

Every year for the past decade the rumor mill begins to turn with talk of Coach Izzo leaving for the NBA. There is always some team that is willing to throw an ungodly amount of money on the table in an attempt to steal him away from MSU. Just how the rumor mills start turning every year in the basketball world, you also get the turn of new freshman who make their way on to campus and begin their careers with MSU basketball. A fresh set of faces that come from varying walks of life with different backgrounds, beliefs, and talent levels. They are unsure of what to expect when it comes to academics, athletics, and life. But one thing has been a constant in East Lansing for 25 years… one thing has always been here to help boys become men; one thing has mentored and taught life lessons to this group… Tom Izzo.

Coach Izzo is built for the college game; he thrives on the pressure of the Big Ten season. He loves out-working his fellow coaches in preparation for a big game. His eyes sparkle when he takes the court because he knows he has prepared our Spartans to take on anyone, any place, any time.

I’ve often said that Coach has a competitive streak unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. I know he has the desire to test himself at the next level with the greatest players in the world. The chance to coach Lebron James is a very tempting offer and to get paid A LOT of money to do so makes the deal even sweeter. But will King James embrace him like our Spartan Nation reveres him? Does the chance to impact a young man’s life compare to over-paid players who don’t always play hard?

I know that the world of college basketball has changed over the last few years and it takes its toll on coaches across the country, but I hope it hasn’t cost us ours.

So stay here Izzo! There is a new crop of freshmen who need you, a city who supports you, and a nation of over 400,000 Spartans who adore you.


14 responses to “My take on Coach Izzo and the Cavs

  • My take on Coach Izzo and the Cavs | Lansing Rocks

    […] Continue reading here: My take on Coach Izzo and the Cavs […]

    • Chris

      I just got done reading 3 great articles about Izzo and I really appreciate him. My buddy has been saying for days that he is staying and I hope he is right.

      Go Green! Go White!

  • Bil Moore

    Not having the pleasure of playing collegiate sports, I don’t have the insight you do. That being said, from an outsider’s perspective, I would think the college experience would be much more rewarding from a personal standpoint.

    I also think that once you get to the level of Coach Izzo, Coach K, or Roy Williams, you buy yourself an almost indefinite amount of time to retool and rebuild if necessary. The college, community, and players will always see them as winners. In the pro game, we’ve seen coaches fired after one season… and sometimes it’s a winning season or even a playoff run.

    I like to believe that Tom Izzo is in it for more than the money. That may be naive, and I certainly wouldn’t blame him for taking the opportunity. I just hope he doesn’t.

  • Scott Westerman

    Great post, Tim!

    I’ve been pondering the legacy of the late great John Wooden this past week. He was a competitor for sure. But he was first and foremost a teacher, a builder of men and an extraordinary human being.

    He wrote that, “Happiness is many things. It’s in love. It’s in sharing. But most of all, it’s in being at peace with yourself knowing that you are making the effort, the full effort to do what is right.”

    Coach Izzo shares many traits with Coach Wooden. He is a teacher, a builder of men and and extraordinary human being. He’s not afraid to do what is right, even if it means losing a game.

    Like his UCLA counterpart, he believes in family. Not only Lupe, Raquel and Steven, but the ever increasing family of kids who came to MSU to learn about basketball, about leadership and about life.

    These relationships transcend the 3 or 4 years these kids spend in East Lansing. They are lifelong, ever evolving friendships that sustain and strengthen our coach, our program and our University.

    That’s not what life is about in the NBA.

    In spite of his extraordinary success, Coach Izzo has experienced the ups and downs that are part and parcel of a career.. and of life.

    When I stood with him before a frenzied crowd of supporters before the Big Ten Tournament, I asked him, “How do you keep this from going to your head?”

    “Lose a few and you’ll understand,” he answered

    Those of us who have had our share of financial good fortune come to realize that it’s ultimately not about the money.

    It’s about the long term legacy we can build through inspiring others to walk in our footsteps.

    Such is the measure of the man from Iron Mountain.

    Win or lose, the ongoing impact Coach Izzo has on future generations is much more powerful at MSU than it can ever be in the NBA.

    To paraphrase one of my favorite poems:

    This NBA
    They soon forget
    The heroes of the past.
    They cheer like mad
    Until you fail
    And that’s how long you’ll last.

    But coach a youth,
    Inspire a child
    And to your creed be true.
    Across all time
    The world will know
    You served at MSU.

    Bottom line: No matter what any of us may think Tom should do. He must do what is right for himself and his family.

    Having watched his ascension with deep admiration these many years, I know that is exactly what he’ll do.

    And I will support him with pride.

    Scott Westerman
    Head Servant

    • timbograkos

      Thanks Scott- I’ve read Coach Woodens books and keep his pyramid of success next to my desk. He was one of the great teachers the world has seen. Coach Izzo has spent the past years turning boys to men. I hope he stays here.

  • huebnerj

    Great post, its hard to imagine Izzo anywhere at other than MSU. Obviously I am hoping he will stay, because MSU will not be the same without him, MSU Basketball has become special because of him. However he has earned the right to have Spartan Nation’s support no matter what he decides. Go Green

  • mark danko

    Excellent post Tim.

  • Joe

    it comes down to a legacy choice, i hope….does tom want to have that kind of impact on young men or babysit millionaire crybabies? will his legacy be like john wooden or dean smith or one like john calipari and rick pitino…i hope its like wooden and smith…

  • dan


    I just discovered your blog…awesome post
    my son is a huge fan of yours, ever since you took the time to throw him into Lake Michigan at Ludingons Gus Macker w Chris Hill and a couple of teamates

    Thanks for taking the time for my son, who was lurking around you while you were playing football out in the lake

    Maybe it was one of coachs lessons that taught you the impact you can have on others lives….

    I am always preaching to my 15 yo son to play defense like tim bograkos…if he wants to play college basketball

    he is very athletic and quick, but vertically challenged…5 foot 1 and going to be a sophmore, the intensity you brought I am trying to teach him

    thanks for your inspiration

  • John A. Hayner

    There’s something about teaching, which could be directly associated with coaching that is definitely rewarding when kids are youngest, and the most shape-able. They can still learn life lessons, skills, etc. at the earlier stages. That’s how it seems like it would be for Izzo coaching at MSU instead of going to the next level.

    instead of working on perfecting one tiny little detail about how someone shoots after he\she cuts to his\her left because that is the most glaring issue the player has. you could work the the player on a much wider range of skills that aren’t already ingrained in habit and muscle memory. Thus your impact as a teacher, or coach is much bigger on the direction the player goes.

    Why WOULDN’T Izzo want to stay and work with spartan players instead of NBA ego’s?

    That last little bit about all of us alums is spot on! Great post Tim!

  • Barb

    Well said! Coach Izzo has not only built a basketball dynasty at MSU, he has become a builder of men. To his teams, present and past, he assumes many roles besides coach. He’s been like a father to many and a mentor to all. I don’t think the pros would offer him the opportunity to touch and mold and shape young men’s lives the way he can at MSU. I know how much you love Coach and how fiercely loyal you are to him. I bet all his players feel the same way! I’m so glad that’s he’s staying “for life!”

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