Michigan State is one of the few schools that place their student section in the lower bowl courtside, with alumni and the general public being seated behind. With only 1,843 lower bowl seats available, it creates a frenzy to buy these tickets, thus students have to show their dedication for basketball, by showing up to games early and missing no more than two games in a season, in order to be eligible for lower bowl tickets.
Hosted by the Michigan State Student Alumni Foundation (SAF), the organization made sure that the nearly 2,000 students camping out would not go bored or hungry during the event. Several vendors from Rice Kitchen to Papianos were on site to sell food for a reduced price.
Just as soon as the tents were up on Saturday morning, the Breslin Center doors were opened to let the Izzone campers indoors to watch the MSU football team take on Pittsburgh at noon on the jumbo-tron above the basketball court. After watching an impressive MSU football win, people stuck around to watch the hated Michigan Wolverines take on Notre Dame in one of the biggest games of the weekend.
As nighttime rolled around, the temperature began to drop, but the fun had just begun. There were students everywhere on the fields, throwing footballs, playing soccer, baseball, kickball, ultimate Frisbee, and just playing catch with baseball gloves. Everyone was just killing time awaiting the coach who made it all possible.
The night was just getting started as a huge roar was heard throughout when the sights of Tom Izzo rolled into Munn Field around 9pm. Izzo had been in Pittsburgh earlier in the day supporting the football team, but made sure he got back in time to speak at his event.
Izzo proceed to speak on stage to the students, and then had the players introduce themselves.
What sets apart any other basketball program in the country is what happened after Izzo and the players were done. They all stuck around for hours mingling with the students and signing autographs for anybody.
Drew Neitzel was signing autographs at one spot, Tom Herzog sat down and played cards with a group of campers, Marquise Gray bummed a slice of pizza from a random camper, and Idong Ibok took pictures with students who were much shorter than him, making the pictures hilarious because of the height difference. Raymar Morgan camped out in a tent with some of his friends
After a swarm of autograph seekers, Tom Izzo participated in a game of sandbag toss and threw the football around with students. Izzo's 11-year-old daughter Raquel and 5-year-old son Steven along with his wife Lupe, also joined him at the event, with Raquel bringing along four of her friends.
Proving that he is one of the nicest and down to earth coaches in college basketball, Tom Izzo and his family put up their tents and slept alongside all of the students outside in the cold.
There were students awake into the early morning around 4:00am before the final batch finally went to sleep.
At 8am, the final check for attendance came and it was time to pack up and go, with most students such as myself, heading back to the dorms to continue sleeping, this time in a warm bed indoors.
Overall, the Izzone Campout is still going strong every year, and as long as Tom Izzo is head coach at MSU, which many hope he will be, Men's Basketball will be a treat to camp out for every year.
It's when you first step foot in the lower bowl on the opening game of the basketball season that it proves that the campout was well worth it.