Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis was very candid about Tom Izzo and the Cavaliers yesterday. Usually everybody in this type of situation likes to keep what's going on close to the vest, but Hollis was open about everything, even outright admitting that the Cavs are interested in Izzo, though no offer had come in just yet.
Hollis continued his openness when he did an interview with Joe Rexrode, sharing his hopes that Izzo stays as well as what Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's role is in all of this.
Hollis on Tom Izzo: “I’m doing everything in my power and the university is doing everything in its power to keep him here. If it comes out that he wants to win an NBA world championship, that’s up to him to decide.
“I hope to be here for his retirement party. … I’m prepared to do anything to protect our school.”
Hollis on Dan Gilbert: “He’s a quality guy and he’s a great Spartan. He has a business to run and we have a business to run. I happen to look at college basketball coaches in a certain way – John Wooden, Dean Smith, Jud Heathcote, the legends in basketball are the college coaches. But that’s up to Tom to determine.”
In addition to Hollis' latest comments, WLNS-TV's Lisa Byington posted a couple of interesting things on Twitter:
A source told us today that the money being thrown around us not as high as reported. Not in 6 to 7 mill but in 4 to 5 mill.
The source tells us that Izzo may feel like this is his best and last opportunity to go. But he will likely not decide in next few days.
More than anything, the timing intrigues me the most about this whole story. Cleveland obviously would like to have a head coach in place for the draft and when free agency begins, but it's going to be tough to get a big-name candidate without a definitive answer from LeBron James. LeBron has made it known that he is going to explore his options, and although he could end up coming back to Cleveland, will the Cavs have the patience to wait around to hire a coach? It seems like they almost have to since settling for a lesser name could drive LeBron away, but man, that would be putting a lot of eggs in one basket.
One theory about why the Cavaliers are coming hard after Tom Izzo is that they are preparing for life after LeBron. Many don't believe Izzo's coaching style would mesh well with LeBron, so the thinking is that the Cavs are getting their backup plan ready by attempting to hire Izzo and building a team around him. If LeBron decided to come back anyways, Cleveland would obviously be thrilled, but perhaps Dan Gilbert already knows that's not likely.
For the sake of Michigan State fans, I hope something is decided one way or another pretty soon, but I could see this process really dragging out. If Cleveland is dead set on hiring Izzo but he will only decide after he knows where LeBron will be playing, then a final answer may not come until sometime in July. That is obviously assuming that LeBron is the deciding factor in all of this, but I just can't see Izzo leaving a Michigan State team that will be one of the favorites to win the national title for a LeBron-less Cavs team. It just wouldn't make sense.