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The anatomy of a toothless rumor – Tom Izzo to the Detroit Pistons

There are headlines all over the internet this morning about the possibility of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo coaching the Detroit Pistons next year.

If you’ve clicked on this headline, you’ve probably clicked on a few of those. Or listened to talk radio or television pundits discuss the possibility.

You’ve been had, by an ever-developing-media-makes-news-to-break-news-page-views-click-’em culture.

ESPN is the best at this. One of its analysts will say something controversial, which creates a headline and a discussion point. Slow news day? No worries. Get Ron Jaworski to say he wouldn’t draft Johnny Manziel.

ESPN’s Jalen Rose — not exactly the source on Tom Izzo (maybe the furthest person from it) — did it this time, with USA today’s Sam Amick giving the story credibility, except that all he said was, “One name (Pistons owner Tom Gores is) expected to go after” is Izzo.

About as surprising and as much breaking news as a pimple-faced 15-year-old boy being attracted to a leggy 17-year-old high school senior.

If Gores wasn’t interested in Izzo, that would be news.

Rose’s comments created this artificial stir, and his analysis was so inaccurate, I’m embarrassed media colleagues haven’t pointed that out. Or simply refused to write the story altogether. Some have.

Here’s what Rose said on his podcast on Grantland, implying Izzo is gearing up to leave:

“Just being in the know, being in the loop and really following both sports intimately, watching how Izzo has recruited recently, if you noticed, most of the top schools — Kansas comes to mind, Kentucky and now even Duke — they’re doing more recruiting of what we consider the one-and-done prospects. You notice that Tom Izzo hasn’t really gone heavily after those prospects. It seemed like to me he was gearing up for one last run.”

Say what? So, Jalen, Izzo wasn’t recruiting Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones? He did spent more hours on Cliff Alexander than any Chicago-area recruit since Shannon Brown?

Rose isn’t Izzo’s favorite person. I’m fairly certain they don’t talk all that often. If ever.

Izzo shrugged off the speculation during an ESPN SportsCenter interview on Tuesday, because there really is no story to comment on. But you see how ESPN does this — Rose says something, it becomes a headline, a talking point, and folks tune in to hear Izzo’s response. It’s disgusting journalism, no better than if I said right now …

“The Pistons have no chance of getting Izzo, because Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, an MSU guy and Izzo fan, will outspend anyone should Izzo again express interest in the NBA.”

My logic there is stronger than Rose’s.

I still believe if Tom Izzo wins a national title, he’ll seriously consider leaving — maybe for broadcasting, perhaps the NBA. And if he doesn’t win in Dallas next month, my gut is he’ll stay at MSU a bit longer. He’s started to include himself when he talks about next year, which he wasn’t doing earlier in the season.

But I don’t know. No one does. I don’t think Izzo has even made a decision. At some point, he’ll be done at MSU. He’s 19 years in.

As for Izzo to the Pistons – it’s bar talk right now. It became a headline because a ton of news websites (this one included) will happily take your clicks.

Thanks for clicking.

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33 Responses to The anatomy of a toothless rumor – Tom Izzo to the Detroit Pistons

  1. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Graham, Izzo talks to Flip Saunders he said on the radio Sunday morning he called Izzo about midnight Sat night, a more credible rumor is that Flip wants Tom to help him make a pitch to Hoiburg an NBA guy at Iowa State, he said he would be watching games in person this weekend, safe bet you see him at MSG within 50 feet of Hoiburg.

  2. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    I would also put Rose in the same journalistic class as Rob Parker.

  3. avatar Spartan2014 says:

    “doesn’t recruit one and done’s”…. how about Jabari Parker.

    Jailen’s an idiot. Plain and simple.

    • avatar MSU Owns Hoke says:

      and zach randolph, have another drink jalen

      • avatar slouchy bud replies to Hoke says:

        You really need to leave Jalen alone MSU Owns Hoke, I can personally vouch that Jalen would go on the air with something that wasn’t true, he is no more capable of telling a lie then I am

        • avatar Spartan 81 says:

          Jalen just made that story up to get his name on television Buck confirmed that sloch

        • avatar MSU Owns Hoke says:

          CWebb your sarcasm is very entertaining, you and jalen should be a comedy duo since both of you are incapable of telling the truth.

          • avatar slouchy bud responds to Hoke says:

            You got to be impressed with the Wolves tonight Hoke. Your buddy just walked into the Garden with his dad. Can I get a Big King

          • avatar MSU Owns Hoke says:

            im not impressed with the wolvies beating absolutely no one in this tournament so far, watch out for those young kids on ky

  4. avatar MSUDersh says:

    Stephen Smith from ESPN was baselessly perpetuating this exact same rumor last month, and it’s been getting thrown around every now & then ever since Gores bought the team three years ago. It’s not happening.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Nonsense, Flip Saunders on the radio Sunday came right out and said he had a long talk with Izzo at midnight Sat night and it was about players. Izzo only confers with GMs he knows on players

  5. avatar jerseyjohn says:

    the scUM agenda at ESPN is in full force. they’re trying to create a distraction for MSU and sabatoge our recruiting. what we don’t need is a brainless alum like jemele hill joining in on the fun. she disgusts me.

  6. avatar Joyce Hoedeman says:

    Maybe I’m naive, but I actually believed Tom last year when he said MSU is his home and he won’t leave.

  7. avatar J says:

    I think all of this is a bit of an overreaction. When Cheeks was fired, it was suggested that Izzo is someone that Pistons owner Tom Gores, who is an MSU alumn and a big fan of Izzo, would make a push for him. Speculation? Yes. Is this a toothless rumor? I wouldn’t go that far, it’s just a pretty safe educated guess, which is not disgusting journalism. Jalen Rose took it farther by looking at his recent recruiting history. While he may be wrong, I don’t think it’s malicious. I do agree ESPN creates news by making bold statements when it’s a slow news because they are on 24/7 and makes stories out of it, but in this case it is just not that big a deal.

  8. avatar dmbtierney says:

    Tom Izzo is the king at MSU (remember Mel Brooks’ “It’s good to be the king”?). He’s got all the money he will ever need. The only scenario I seem him leaving is if he get’s another national championship or two and feels that an NBA team could use his expertise at the end of his career. Otherwise, he’s home, he gets in free to football games and everyone likes him. Why leave?

  9. avatar Larry Johnson says:

    I think you are conveniently denying the great attraction a HOF coach like Izzo would have in the opportunity to coach a pass-first cerebral-oriented pure point-guard like Brandon Jennings. I look at Jennings and see a guy that is yearning to sit down and learn from a coach like Izzo. Jennings is perhaps the best candidate to carry that Izzo legacy… And what about Josh Smith…. Is he not a coaches dream? I think you’re wrong… I don’t see too many reasons why Izzo wouldn’t like the opportunity to get in on the good the Pistons have. The opportunity to coach the Pistons only comes around once or twice every season… It might be the best 4 and 1/2 months of his life. …Don’t correct me if I’m wrong.

  10. avatar Jmac says:

    I find it interesting that the NBA is still considered the same game as college basketball, and that people still think coaches are interchangeable. The best analogy I can think of is comparing Canadian football to NFL game. However, if the NBA continues diverging, then I fully expect the analogy to be more NFL to Ausralian rules football. I vaguely remember talk of a 4 point shot this year. Do we really want reward a shot that is most often taken during a middle school open gym during lunch?

  11. avatar Big Jon G says:

    No MSU alum wants Izzo to leave. I don’t think there is much of a chance he would leave for the Pistons, who are so far removed from being a winning team, and have such a dysfunctional front office, that Izzo would consider going to Cleveland over Detroit.

    But let’s say MSU wins it all this year and Izzo leaves for TV or the NBA (which I agree with Graham might be about the only scenario in which he would leave after this year). I don’t think it will happen, but who then are your coaching candidates? Realistically? The list in Mark Hollis’ secret desk drawer would probably include:

    Immediate “thanks but no thanks:” Billy Donovan, Sean Miller, Tom Crean, Tim Miles – Hollis would reach out, or should reach out, and would be politely declined in all scenarios. Crean or Miles wouldn’t take another job within the B10. Personally I would take any of these guys.

    Longshots to make a move: Tony Bennett, Rick Barnes, Cuonzo Martin, Mark Few – I am not too excited about any of these names. Bennett’s teams would be tough but could he recruit enough talent? Martin would love to come back to the B10 I believe but probably not enough of a sample size, plus he would be the #1 candidate when the Purdue job opens up (which may be within 12 months). Few’s team’s don’t play defense and he hasn’t recruited the midwest. Barnes is interesting – I don’t think he’s a great in-game coach but I think he may be on the move soon. He has been at Texas awhile, is 59, and his teams struggled a bit in 2012 and 2013. Plus Izzo respects him and he seems to run a pretty clean program. Not my choice.

    Legitimate possibilities: Gregg Marshall, Jamie Dixon, Mick Cronin, Jim Crews, Dane Fife, Tad Boyle – I would have included Buzz Peterson on this list before he took the Virginia Tech job. I have a feeling the next coach might come from this list. Marshall is the hot name right now whose team will not be Final Four caliber next year. Dixon, Cronin, Crews all are defensive coaches with tough-minded teams. They are all young enough to make 1 big move. They run pretty clean programs and are Midwestern guys. Boyle is a longer shot but has done a great job at Colorado. Fife would be next in line if MSU went in-house. He has head coaching experience but didn’t exactly light it up at IPFW. I would see him getting a job at a school like Dayton or Xavier first before coming to an MSU but who knows?

    Longshots to be considered: Chris Mack, Bruce Weber, Tubby Smith, Brian Gregory, Dwayne Stephens, Mark Montgomery, Stan Heath – The former or current MSU assistants are all obvious inclusions here. I don’t think any of them have done enough to warrant this job but we certainly appreciate their contributions over the years! Of the former MSU assistants, Gregory has the best resume but is scuffling now at Georgia Tech after a nice run at Dayton. I am surprised Montgonery has struggled at N. Illinois. Mack is too much of a hot head at Xavier and is being linked to Wake Forest right now. Weber has the respect of Izzo and the B10 but I don’t think MSU would ask him back to the conference after 1 year at K-State. Same goes for Smith. Good guy, nice coach but just got fired from a B10 job a year ago.

    My top three: Marshall, Dixon, Cronin – The question with all three would be can they recruit at a high enogh level? They are very good coaches who get tough guys and who have teams who can play defense. Dixon has yet to make a Final Four but would better talent help? Marshall’s name is obvious but Cronin is the sleeper here. Highly respected, really knows the Midwest, solid coach.

    Bottom-line: Let’s hope Coach Izzo has 5-7 more good years left in him. But would another national title be a good trade off if he decided to step down? Let’s hope for the former but not the latter.

    • avatar Big Jon G says:

      A name perhaps I forgot is Dayton’s Archie Miller but his sample size is just two years, with just one good year. I think it would be too early to offer it to him.

    • avatar Izzo Owns Bo says:

      Izzo ain’t leaving. We have ins on some big recruits for 2015 and beyond. That Davis kid from Muskegon is going to be a defensive beast. But if he do go, I’d love for them to get Shaka. Those teams would be fun to watch and he could recruit better at MSU than VCU. Them other coaches aren’t anything special. Maybe Marshall but we don’t want that guy from Pitt. He never wins in the Tourney.

  12. avatar Big Jon G says:

    I also forgot Shaka Smart of VCU. I mean, he turned down UCLA though, right? I don’t see it. I think he would be a longshot to come but might be the best name in that list of mine with Barnes, Few, etc.

    Former assistant Doug Wojeck I think is at College of Charleston but I would lump him in with the other former MSU assistants, as I would NBA assistant Jim Boylen. I just don’t see either of those – it’s not 2010.

    • avatar dmbtierney says:

      Shaka is a Midwest guy, playing his college ball in Ohio. I guarantee you he would listen to an offer from MSU. He turned down Marquette today but the difference between that school and MSU is like night and day. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up at MSU, Ohio St. or Indiana if any of those coaches would retire soon.

      Our coaching pedigree the last few years has kind of dwindled. Stan Heath just got fired, Brian Gregory has struggled at Georgia Tech, Doug Wojcik has had his ups and downs, Mark Montgomery is making progress at N. Illinois.

      I assume Dwayne Stephens will have a new head job in the next year or two (Marquette likes MSU guys). Dane Fife looks like the only real candidate from the current staff. BTW, if Tom would retire after this year (highly doubtful), I would go after the Wichita St. coach in a New York (where I will be tomorrow) minute.

      Ain’t it fun to speculate?

  13. avatar Vinnie40 says:

    Big Jon G
    Interesting observations which, eventually, will become real discussion. Scott Skiles. Patience for young kids? GREAT teacher………….

    • avatar JoeJoe Forte says:

      I don’t see Skiles. How many coaches started strong in the NBA and then went to college to be a success? Cheaterpari started in college then went to the pros and back to college – so did Pitino. So did Larry Brown. So did Leonard Hamilton even (who isn’t that great of a coach anyway).

  14. avatar jerseyjohn says:

    first of all izzo is going nowhere. but when he does his replacement is a no brainer. SCOTT SKILES.

    • avatar Jeff Z says:

      Jersey John good point but Skiles has only been a pro guy. Not sure hes a college coach. Probably a candidate but gotta think he’s not wanting to be a college coach.

    • avatar Jmac says:

      I would be surprised if it was Skiles, for one thing I think he needs to get back into coaching.

  15. avatar Spartaninsc says:

    Izzo isn’t leaving anytime soon… I don’t see any of the people listed in this e-mail coming here. I think Shaka could end up at Kentucky or IU. If he had Crean’s job, I think he’d own the state of Indiana and get a 5 star out of Chicago every few years. And at Kentucky he’d run a scary clean program. I think Izzo’s successor will come from the bench. And probably not anyone currently at State.

  16. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    This team is more versatile and has more weapons to beat you with than the 09 team, it also has a grater chance for one or more components to disappear for large segments of the game, hence the reason for cautious optimism
    MSU 71
    Virginia 63
    Go Green

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