Izzo Atop List of Replacements at UK

Sources have told Scout.com that the University of Kentucky is interested in Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo and may contact the school asking for permission to speak to Izzo formally.

DETROIT - Sources have told Scout.com and GoSpartans.net that the University of Kentucky is interested in Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo and may contact the school asking for permission to speak to Izzo formally.

Kentucky's head coaching situation became open when Tubby Smith abruptly resigned with four years remaining on his contract. Smith has come under heavy scrutiny for his failure to pilot the Wildcats to NCAA success and was being strongly criticized on talk radio programs in the Lexington area.

Smith may simply have had enough of the enormous expectations. Yesterday, he flew to Minneapolis to accept the University of Minnesota's vacant head coaching job. Sources put Smith's annual salary figure at somewhere between $1.2 and $1.8 million per season.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats have compiled a list of the who's who of coaching candidates. According to more than a few published reports that list includes Izzo, Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, Florida coach Billy Donovan, Marquette's Tom Crean, Memphis' John Calipari and Notre Dame's Mark Brey.

Requests for comment from Michigan State's Sports Information department were not immediately returned.

Of those candidates, most observers believe that Few, Crean, Calipari and Brey would jump at the chance to coach in the basketball crazed hotbed that is Lexington, Kentucky.

But what about Izzo? He appears poised to return Michigan State to the Elite Eight and possibly beyond with an infusion of four talented freshman and has a solid commitment from one of the top '08 prospects in Korie Lucious of St. Pius high school in Milwaukee.

Izzo is known to have tremendous loyalty to the school where he has made a name for himself, but Kentucky is a school flushed with dollars. If they sensed interest from Izzo, they could shower him cash, so much so that he could end up being the highest paid coach in collegiate basketball.

But Izzo has shown in the past that money isn't the end-all and be-all for him, turning down lucrative pro job offers. Still, the opportunity to coach at one of the most storied Universities in the country may tempt Izzo to at least listen.

Listening can turn into an offer and an offer means a decision then has to be made. It is unknown whether Izzo is Kentucky's top choice or simply is among those the school is interested in speaking with.


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