ANALYSIS: Izzo rumors simply can't be true

Two Lansing sports personalities have floated the idea of naming basketball coach Tom Izzo to take over the floundering football program and one even reported that Michigan State University was seriously considering the idea.

DETROIT - Even Tom Izzo has his limitations.

But Izzo's greatness on the hardwoods have driven some to think the head coach can do almost anything.

Two Lansing sports personalities have floated the idea of naming basketball coach Tom Izzo to take over the floundering football program and one even reported that Michigan State University was seriously considering the idea.

One reporter built up to his story announcing Izzo as a candidate for the job by saying he had uncovered a candidate that "would shock the Spartan Nation".

Another, in a blog entry for Booth Newspapers, called it a "bold, splashy, innovative idea."

The idea is both bold and shocking and a very bad idea.

If the University, is in fact, seriously considering this idea, the whole search committee ought to be removed immediately. Izzo may have a passion for football and there is no question he is a great basketball recruiter, but football and basketball are two different things.

Izzo has never coached football, to my knowledge, on any level other than perhaps a few pickup games, and while he might love challenges, even he has to know that he has limitations.

If anyone needs to see the perils of putting a person into a high profile job for which they have no experience, they can cast their gaze towards Allen Park where Matt Millen, a man who won five Super Bowl rings as a player, hasn't been able to get the Detroit Lions to even a .500 record in six seasons as President and General Manager of the team.

In the process, Millen has become the become target of tremendous fan ire and his reputation has taken a huge hit to where he's the punch line to every bad Lions joke told.

I don't wish that on Coach Izzo.

Observers might be missing what makes Coach Izzo a great basketball coach.

It's not just because he has just the motivational ability to get the most out of his players, but rather it's because he couples that with being an excellent teacher as well as student of the game.

He's knows how to improve a players shooting, passing, defensive ability, rebounding and on and on. He knows basketball strategy like how to use timeouts, when to use a zone, man-to-man, box and one defense. He has a keen eye for spotting an opponents weaknesses and exploiting them while cleverly concealing his own team's deficiencies.

Simply put, Izzo has forgotten more about teaching and winning at basketball than most of us will ever know.

It takes more than a motivational speaker to win at football or for that matter, basketball. It takes someone who knows what they are doing.

There would also likely be serious negative repercussions in reaction to such a move.

One can only imagine the reaction of the Black Coaches Association when they find out all their candidates were passed over for someone who's never coached a day at the position?

Talk of a boycott might quickly follow.

The BCA was not happy when Bobby Williams was fired, they felt prematurely. MSU took a big step in healing that relationship when they nearly signed current Bengals coach Marvin Lewis to be their head man before Lewis got cold feet and headed to Cincinnati. All that goodwill would be gone with such a bizarre, shocking move.

And what if Izzo - regardless of his passion and love for the University - actually took the job and then failed miserably? Where would that leave both the coach and the University? Talk about making a bad situation worse? You couldn't get any worse.

Then there's the recruiting.

Few, if any high profile recruits are going to put their short four-year collegiate career and hopes for getting to the next level into the hands of a coach who's never so much as ran a football practice on a collegiate or even high school level.

As far as Izzo being able to assemble one of the "best staffs in the nation" as one reporter stated, with the help of his friends Steve Mariucci and Nick Saban, that simply would not happen.

Mariucci never was able to put together such a staff at 'dream team staff together at California, at San Francisco or in Detroit and Saban is struggling with his current staff in Miami. Unless the two of them are going to join Izzo on the sidelines, such a stunt has no chance of succeeding.

The top collegiate and professional assistants aren't going to work under a football neophyte, no matter how connected, how determined or how passionate.

While MSU has acknowledged that Izzo has been a very important part of the search process and his input has been sought throughout it, anything more than that simply cannot be seriously considered.

In his bio on the MSU official website, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas is quoted as stating ``Spartan Basketball means all-out effort in pursuing excellence. There is no coach in America I respect any more than Tom Izzo."

Would Izzo really put the respect and the accolades he's garnered from people like Bilas and the entire basketball community at risk by taking part in such an experiment? Let's certainly hope not.

Here is what should be considered; Izzo taking over for Ron Mason as athletic director when Mason's contract expires. Izzo loves the University and might need another challenge to keep himself mentally engaged in East Lansing for the next ten years.

He has all the qualities that are needed to take the post; intelligence, passion, enthusiasm and a solid business acumen. He would be an inspired choice to lead the athletic department over the next 10 years, with Mark Hollis as his top assistant.

The next job for Tom Izzo should be Athletic Director, not football coach.

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