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Tom Izzo: Michigan fans taunt me with ‘angry midget’ chants

Tom IzzoTom Izzo denied rumors that there is anything going on with him and the Detroit Pistons head coaching job, but in the same interview he shared another note that was far more of interest. Michigan fans apparently have a very amusing taunt for the Michigan State coach.

According to Izzo, Michigan fans call him “angry midget.”

Izzo did an interview with Dan Patrick on Wednesday and was asked whether he could walk the streets in Ann Arbor safely.

“Yeah, actually they’re pretty good. They got a few good chants. You know, ‘angry midget’ is one of my favorite ones. I kind of like that.

“I think for the most part I have great respect for the people, and I think for the most part they have great respect for me.”

Izzo is obviously amused by the taunt because he felt comfortable sharing it, which probably will take some of the fun out of it for Michigan fans in the future. He also jokingly blamed Wolverines fans for starting the Pistons rumor.

As far as the Pistons rumors, Izzo says he is not interested in the job right now, but did not rule out having interest in an NBA job in the future.

Oh, and just for fun, if you google “tom izzo angry midget,” you end up seeing a funny tag on the Michigan fan blog “MGoBlog” that says “Tom Izzo is a crybaby midget.”

Tom Izzo was furious during his halftime interview (Video)

Tom Izzo angryTom Izzo has been known to get fired up from time to time, but his anger on Tuesday night was stronger than usual.

Izzo was furious with the referees for not calling a foul on Ohio State before halftime of the Spartans’ game against the Buckeyes. Keith Appling was dribbling down the sidelines and stepped out of bounds, but Izzo believed he was pushed out.

Even though Michigan State went into halftime leading 28-21, Izzo was ticked that the non-call cost his team a possession. He proceeded to go Gregg Popovich during his interview with ESPN’s Allison Williams.

Asked what had him so frustrated, Izzo barked “a lot!” in response.

He gave Williams the death stare too before finally calming down and answering two more questions.

Michigan State won the game 72-58. Imagine what Izzo’s interview would have been like had his team been losing at halftime.

Tom Izzo says his son picked Duke to beat Michigan State

Tom Izzo’s 13-year-old son Steven is not afraid to tell it like it is. Those of us who filled out an NCAA Tournament bracket know that part of the process requires making difficult decisions. Most of you would expect Steven Izzo to pick Michigan State to win the national championship this season, but his bracket says differently.

Earlier this week, Tom Izzo told ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning that his son picked Duke to prevail over the Spartans in their Sweet 16 match-up on Friday.

“My 13-year-old has all the bracket done and he’s got Michigan State and Duke,” Izzo explained. “He didn’t finish the rest of the bracket so I said, ‘Steven, what are you doing?’ He says, ‘Well Dad, I’m just not sure on this game.’ I said, ‘You know what, son? You’ve got to pick with your head, not your heart.’ The damn kid picked Duke!”

“My son’s problem is whether he ever eats at my house again. He’s a big fan of Coach K’s, so I’ve got real problems at my house.”

We all have our teams that we feel good about and not so good about. Apparently Michigan State falls under the latter category for Steven Izzo. On Tuesday, Izzo told CBS Sports Radio’s The Morning Show (via MLive.com) that his son picked Louisville — not Duke — to win the East Region. Steven himself also told CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman earlier this month that he picked Miami to win the whole thing.

Does this kid have Division-1 coach written all over him or what? Like his old man, who has made certain comments that show us he is not afraid to speak his mind, Steven is clearly not afraid of making the unpopular decision. The good news is if Michigan State loses on Friday, at least someone in the Izzo household will be winning.

H/T The Dagger

Tom Izzo loved that his players got into a towel fight in team huddle (Video)

Derrick Nix towelMichigan State looked like it had some chemistry problems when Derrick Nix and Keith Appling got into a towel fight in a team huddle Saturday during the Spartans’ 70-48 win over Memphis, but coach Tom Izzo says he loved it.

“Oh it’s great, isn’t it?” Izzo responded when asked about the incident by CBS’ Rachel Nichols after the game. “It reminds me of [Mateen] Cleaves and them. It’s better when your team’s getting a little feisty a little bit. Keith didn’t want to take anything from Nix and he told him, so, that’s all good.”

Nichols pointed out that Izzo didn’t look too happy about the fighting at the time, but Izzo insisted it wasn’t a bad thing.

“Trust me, in my program, that’s all good. They got after it a little bit and I kind of enjoyed it. That’s the way we are. We’re a blue-collar group, and that’s the way we play.”

When Izzo mentioned “Cleaves and them,” he was referring to his 1999-2000 team that won the national championship. They were led by Cleaves, then a senior, who had a tough, take-charge type of mentality. That team also featured the “Flintstones,” which was comprised of Cleaves, Charlie Bell, and Morris Peterson (Antonio Smith had graduated), all of whom grew up playing ball together in Flint, Mich. Nix and Appling live together and played together at Detroit Pershing in high school.

In postgame comments shared by MLive.com, both Appling and Nix said there is nothing but love between them, and that that sort of petty fighting is typical. We encourage you to follow that link to read more about the relationship between Appling and Nix.

Tom Izzo estimates that 20% of college basketball recruiting involves cheating

Everyone knows that cheating goes on in the world of college athletics, they just don’t know to what extent. There are some who will tell you everyone does it. Others believe there’s no way their favorite coach could possibly stoop to that level. Whatever the case, the NCAA claims it is aiming to clean up college football and basketball — particularly the influence of sports agents on recruits. According to Tom Izzo, that’s going to require cleaning up about one-fifth of the game.

“I am not saying that cheating is 80% of the game,” Izzo told USA TODAY. “It’s probably 20%. But it’s probably 70% of the top 20% (of player recruitments). College basketball is a business. This (recruiting) is a business now because it leads to ours.”

In other words, most of the highly-sought after recruits wind up where then wind up because of some form of cheating. At least, that’s what Izzo thinks. If you don’t believe that then you need to pay closer attention. Izzo also said he has lost many recruits because he refuses to cheat.

The NCAA is attempting to prevent another Cam Newton scandal by both changing its rules and cracking down on violations. For example, college basketball coaches can now send unlimited text messages to recruits. The truth of the matter is there are always going to be ways to get around the rules. If the NCAA is somehow successful in preventing one form of cheating, another will be born. In the age of technology, we all have to just accept that cheating is a part of the game.

Tom Izzo thinks Kentucky’s one-and-done players might be viewed differently if they were white

Kentucky coach John Calipari finally won a national championship this past season using mostly one-and-done guys — something many coaches avoid because it makes continuity difficult for programs. That is among the many reasons he is disliked (having Final Four appearances vacated at UMass and Memphis is another). There are some people like Bob Knight who despise the one-and-done system because it ruins the integrity of collegiate athletics. Others dislike it for similar reasons.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo believes race is a factor in the disdain for one-and-done athletes like the ones Kentucky has. Asked if he thought a highly talented, highly athletic team of white players would be viewed differently, Izzo said yes to William C. Rhoden of the New York Times.

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Tom Izzo Was Disappointed with Nick Saban for Snubbing Michigan State

You can add another person to the list of those who have a beef with Nick Saban’s final regular season coaches’ ballot.  While many have griped about the Alabama coach voting Oklahoma State No. 4 on his ballot, that can’t really surprise anyone.  Although you are supposed to be completely objective in voting, we know one of the perks of the job is being able to help your team’s position.  As it turns out, Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo is also a bit disappointed in the way Saban voted, since he voted Michigan State 17th and their rival Michigan eighth.

“I don’t think it’s anything bad intended against Michigan State,” Izzo said according to The Grand Rapids Press. “I know he and Mark (Hollis, athletic director) have a decent relationship, and I don’t think Nick has any ill feelings to Michigan State, but it surprises me a little bit.”

Saban used to coach at MSU, so perhaps Izzo believes he should have helped them out.  However, the Spartans have three losses on the year and finished 17th in the final BCS standings, so obviously Saban’s opinion is not far off.  They finished 13th in the coaches’ poll behind Michigan who finished 12th, but as the Rapids Press pointed out MSU was well ahead of Michigan in the BCS standings so Saban’s vote did not affect their bowl status.

There are always going to be questions raised after the final votes are in, but the way people are reacting over Saban’s final ballot is is a bit dramatic.  His team deserves the spot they were given anyway, and he voted their biggest threat 4th just to give them an extra kick down the polls.  There aren’t many coaches in the country who wouldn’t do the same if put in a similar position.