Was Tom Izzo In The Wrong For Grabbing His Player?

Tom Izzo

Was Tom Izzo In The Wrong For Grabbing His Player? | Sports Takes & News | TooAthletic.com

The footage was trending for all the wrong reasons, and the optics were questionable at best. The video came from the UCLA/Michigan State men’s basketball game Thursday night with Spartans’ head coach Tom Izzo forcefully grabbing the arm, and then jersey of Gabe Brown. Izzo, after having his arm pushed away chased after his player, with the two finally walking out of camera range towards the Michigan State locker room. The question here is simple: are the days of head coaches being able to make physical contact with their players over, especially at the college level? 

Perhaps shielded by their defeat on the court, Michigan State University was silent on Friday, one day after Tom Izzo and Gabe Brown were trending during the NCAA Tournament. Izzo, who turned 66 two months ago, is known for being a fiery personality on the Spartans bench, wearing his emotions on his sleeves and expressing his displeasure with his players in a variety of ways.

There’s always a balancing act required with young athletes who bring with them a passion that is on display. The question is always how to temper the passion without muting it in young players, and not run the risk of also tempering their talents. The same question is now being applied to head coaches, especially at the high school and college levels, where making physical contact with players is no longer acceptable, and cameras are always there to call out those who violate the new rules of the game. 

For coaches like Tom Izzo, the days of being able to do what he did to Gabe Brown are probably over despite him calling it a “normal nothing” after the game. When asked about the exchange with Brown, Izzo first bristled before saying:

“I guess I’ll answer it because the media has the right to ask whatever question, but, you know, we’ll get him in here and you can ask him. I mean, it was a normal nothing. It’s just that this day and age everything’s something. It was over a missed switch that we had talked about.”

Izzo is not the first high-profile head coach to have a “senior” moment this season. That’s because right before Izzo’s birthday in late January, Duke’s longtime head coach Mike Krzyzewski also had a bad exchange with a student reporter after the game, a sign that the Blue Devils were having a bad seasons, a season that saw them fail to make the NCAA tournament.

Izzo’s exchange with Brown came during the a “First Four” game on Thursday with UCLA advancing to the field of 64 and Michigan State being sent home after their overtime loss.

Tom Izzo’s delivery method is outdated and is no longer tolerated in today’s sports world or society in general, so for him to call the exchange a “nothing normal” should be of concern to the Michigan State administration. That’s because if there is a next time, it may involve a player that won’t be as smart as Gabe Brown was, with that player turning to fight rather than walking away. It also has the potential of seeing Tom Izzo take things too far himself, and having him say or do something that he may later regret, with that action potentially ending his career and tarnishing his legacy.

So, should college coaches grab players? Of course not, not any more than we would allow any other teacher to grab our child in a classroom, and after all, don’t we always hear about how head coaches are teachers? 

If Michigan State is not looking hard at working out an exit strategy with Tom Izzo during the offseason, then they are doing a disservice to their program and their student body; because I doubt if any other person in a position of power did what he did, would still have a job on Monday morning.

There are right ways and wrong ways to do things, and what Tom Izzo did was wrong, period; and that message must be sent not only to him but to all the other head coaches and former Michigan State players who defended his action. The school may not need to let Izzo go right away, and maybe their head coach deserves that much, but the way Tom Izzo goes about doing things are over and must be stopped. That’s because right now I know there’s at least one parent out there who will not send their son to play for the Spartans after what they saw, and I don’t blame them for one second. That tells me the time has come to change the way the school does thing, which will mean that either Tom Izzo changes, or the school needs to change who their head coach is. 

 


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Was Tom Izzo In The Wrong For Grabbing His Player? | TooAthletic.com

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