Tom Izzo Staying At Michigan State, Pressure Mounts On Cavs
The protracted courtship of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo by the Cleveland Cavaliers failed - Izzo announced earlier tonight he's staying where he is "for life." The Cavs better have something good planned in his place.
Izzo was tantalized by the opportunity to possibly coach James in Cleveland, but that's all it ever was - a possibility. While he apparently never talked to James personally, it was clear he did what he could to figure out if LeBron would be back in Cleveland next year, and did not get a concrete answer:
He said he did not talk to James.
"I talked to enough people in his camp," Izzo said. "He, too, has a very tough decision."
Izzo loves what he has at Michigan State, too, and with good reason - he's built one of the nation's top programs. And him staying means he gets to try and achieve the program goals he outlined in a statement he released when the news of him turning down the Cavs first broke:
I’ve repeatedly said I have greater goals for our program and that remains unchanged. Tops on that list is becoming one of just seven schools with three or more NCAA Championships. I’m also driven to continue to raise the perception of our program to an elite level.
If he doesn't think his program is perceived as elite now, it's almost scary to think how good it would have to be for it to be wherever he imagines it.
As for the Cavaliers, they have some serious work cut out for them now. Izzo was the most buzzworthy possible hire for them (#1 in News Buzz and Blog Buzz among NCAA basketball coaches on our Power Grid!), and their only known fallback plan is former Nets and Hornets coach Byron Scott.
Scott has had success, getting to the NBA Finals twice with the Nets and the playoffs twice with the Hornets, but wore out his welcome in both spots, and many believed assistant Eddie Jordan was running the show more than Scott was during the Nets' trips to the Finals. Let's face it - this hire is about impressing LeBron James, and Scott doesn't seem like the type with enough clout to cut it.
But who does? Unfortunately for the Cavs, not many people. Mike Krzyzewski has it, but he's probably not leaving Duke. Pat Riley has it, but he's not leaving his Miami executive spot. Jeff Van Gundy might make a splash, but he's not ready to leave TV.
But here's who else would make a splash: Phil Jackson. For all Bill Simmons' talk about how the Nets should make a massive "Godfather offer" to Jackson - why shouldn't Cleveland, once the Finals ends? Maybe they've already put feelers out, and maybe (probably?) Jackson wouldn't have any interest.
But at this point, the Cavs have to try. They're running out of ways to make a coaching splash, and might not make one at all with their eventual hire, but they better exhaust all options first - because it's pretty clear at this point that come July 1, LeBron's going to exhaust all his options. Cleveland better be as attractive an option as possible when that day arrives.
Video of Izzo's press conference/address below:
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