"Why don't you stick my head in the lion's mouth-- step on my head while I'm drowning?"
Those words from Vince Vaughn might describe the backlash I get from MSU fans for saying this, but-- I THINK TOM IZZO SHOULD TAKE THE CLEVELAND JOB.
First, let me state clearly-- I want badly for Tom to return and coach this team that will likely be a preseason #1 and back in the Final Four with a great shot for a national championship. But damn me to maize and blue hell for saying, I want to see what Tom can do in the NBA coaching one of the greatest players ever. I want to see what the guy who wins on one-day's preparation in the NCAA tournament can do with a 7-game series in the NBA. I want to see how he will overhaul his persona to fit professional athletes (because if people think he'll go into the League guns a-blazing and getting in the face of pro guys, they're nuts). I want to see him become just the second coach to ever win NCAA and NBA titles.
Pitino says stay if he's happy. Vitale says he'll get fired. I say he'll become one of the greatest coaches of all-time.
College coaches can be great pro coaches. Pitino was good with the Knicks and Larry Brown was good with a few teams. The problem is all you hear is "college coaches can't go pro" because it's bombarded by the fans trying to keep their college coach from leaving. When Pitino failed in Boston, and Calipari failed in New Jersey, and Lon Kruger failed in Atlanta, they were totally rebuilding bottomed-out programs. Izzo would be taking over a team guaranteed a spot in the conference finals.
I'm tired of seeing fans ripping the coach for running for the money. First, every fan saying that would bolt to the dark side of the moon if they got an offer doubling their salary. Second, it's not about the money in my opinion. It's about taking a shot at one of your life's goals (coaching in the NBA) and coaching LeBron James at the same time. It's flat out a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Coach Izzo and anyone who doesn't understand why he's seriously thinking about it is plain selfish.
Izzo has long said he doesn't want to coach as long as Jud did, so you have to reason he has about five years left. He could easily give everything for a five-year run with the Cavs and win an NBA title-- or three. If he does, he's one of the best ever. If he doesn't, he's still a college hall-of-famer, but yes, with a tarnished legacy. But I think he has a better chance of winning an NBA title than he does an NCAA title in those five years.
My fear is if Tom stays, is this team will quit on him. It's obvious there are serious issues between these players and the coach. Some quit on him last year, but he brought them back and motivated them. Tom has an in-your-face approach and it's obviously worn thin on some of this team. A team that splintered a bit last year as well. I think it's possible a new coach can win a national title with next year's MSU basketball team. If that new coach was Brian Gregory, it's a good chance. He's similar to Izzo in the style he runs, recruited Adrian Payne to Dayton, and is not as blustery with his players.
Maybe these players need a breath of fresh air. But, don't get me wrong-- nobody is better qualified to lead the 2010-11 Spartans to a title than Tom Izzo.
Boy, I sure do want Tom Izzo to stay at MSU. But, I want to see him coach LeBron James to an NBA title a little more.