“I’m pleased to say I am here for life at Michigan State,”
“I am going to be a lifer,”
“This is what I’m going to be. And I’m damn proud of it.”
Those were the words Tom Izzo said during his press conference two summers ago. Those words made the statement that Tom Izzo would be a Spartan for life after the NBA has continuously tried to sweep Izzo off his feet.
Tom Izzo made another statement last night, but he didn’t speak it.
Izzo claimed victory no. 400 against Minnesota at the Breslin Center on Wednesday night. The win means much more than Michigan State improving to 17-4 and moving into a first place tie for the Big Ten.
The win makes Izzo only the fourth coach in Big Ten history to hit 400. Only Bob Knight of Indiana, Gene Keady of Purdue, and Lou Henson of Illinois have more wins in the Big Ten than Izzo does. Izzo could pass Henson next year for third on the list, and if Izzo plans to coach another 10 years, he should be the winningest coach in Big Ten history when all is said and done.
The coach from the upper penisula already has something special that the coaches ahead of him do not. Izzo has only coached as a head coach at Michigan State. Henson coached at New Mexico State before and after Illinois, Keady coached Western Kentucky before taking the Purdue job, and Knight coached Army before and Texas Tech after his tenure at Indiana.
With the seconds counting down against Minnesota and the Izzone chanting “400″, Izzo, had a moment to himself where he teared up on the bench. The win obviously meant a lot to him, but it’s his team that wanted to give it to him the most.
“It’s a great feeling to be a part of. I love that guy,” senior Draymond Green said. “Coach don’t get emotional about a lot of stuff, usually when he’s getting emotional it’s about something for somebody else. It’s great to see him get emotional about something he accomplished.”
Center Derrick Nix knew that his coach would appreciate the win. Izzo doesn’t hold back with his emotions with his team.
“I knew he’d cry at the end,” Nix said to ESPN. “He always wears his emotions on his sleeve.”
The team surprised Izzo at the post game press conference when they barged in and presented Izzo with a signed ball that read “400″. The team all took turns hugging and shaking Izzo’s hand, a testament to the difference between the team’s chemistry this year and last year.
“I know it meant something to them,” Izzo said. “I didn’t realize it before.”
It meant something to a lot of people. For Spartan fans it means they have a coach that will guide their team throughout the next decade.
A Spartan for life.