St Louis, MO
I have a front row seat to Tom Izzo’s career. Behind the scenes, in front of the scenes, off the record and on the record, home and away are all part of what I get to see. That is why those of us who cover Tom Izzo as close as we do all lauded the Spartans head man for how he handled the loss to the Blue Raiders. It was truly Tom Izzo’s shining moment at his lowest point.
As an objective journalist it was impressive, as his friend I was proud. My late father used to say that, “Adversity doesn’t define a man, it shows you his character.” Tom Izzo at his lowest point showed people what those closest to him already knew.
Moments after the loss a tear stained Izzo stepped to the post game dais with Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello to address the media. I can tell you as a journalist who travels the nation covering the MSU beat that there is never an easy way to ask tough questions, but they must be asked. I have never had a Spartan coach or player get angry with me even in the worst times for asking fair and germane questions. To their credit they have been tremendous ladies and gentleman and proved my father correct.
But that doesn’t mean that every media question has been germane or even intelligent. Another example was on display after the Spartans loss.
A media member not being Intune with the obvious emotion on Tom Izzo’s tear stained countenance asked, “Tom, how do you take a loss like this and turn it into something to motivate the guys going forward next year?”
Izzo answer was a classy rebuke of a poorly timed and worded inquiry. “Not to insult you, just a ridiculous question. I don’t care about next year. I don’t care about tomorrow. That’s the problem. You know it’s always what’s next? There’s three guys here that gave me every single thing they had, and I don’t care about next year. I don’t even care about tomorrow right now. I just care about the present and what they did for me, for us. And somehow I’ve got to make sure that in all this disappointment that does not get lost, because that’s the problem with sports; it does get lost. And somebody’s not happy unless they win it all. It just was disappointing that we didn’t move farther than we did. But I learned nothing, zero, for next year. I got 200 days to worry about next year, and I’m not going to worry about it one bit today. Sorry, too, by the way.”
It was a drop the mic moment for the Spartans future Hall of Fame leader. When his team was down he demonstrated to the entire nation and the young men who look to him for leadership character. Tom Izzo has national title, 19 straight NCAA appearances and a list of accolades a mile long, At this moment when his team was at their lowest point, he was at his highest. This isn’t an excuse, it is reality. The loss was terrible, the character shown was impressive.
Izzo said in the hallway outside his locker room that, “My only regret is that I don’t get to coach them anymore.” That says it all.