What madness will MSU conjure up next for Izzo?
East Lansing – It's hard to imagine what they will come up with next for Tom Izzo.
Midnight Madness is back on Friday night at the Breslin Center, and Izzo has done everything from rappel from the ceiling to getting shot out of a cannon.
OK, the cannon thing wasn't really him, but the Michigan State coach insists he wanted to do it.
Whatever it is – Izzo was giving no hints this week, saying on Tuesday he didn't yet know the plan – there is no doubt whatever athletic director Mark Hollis and his team come up with, it will be memorable.
It's the unofficial tip-off to the season, though the team has been practicing for a few weeks, and Izzo understands it's a night for the fans to come out and have some fun.
"I don't know why I keep doing it," Izzo lamented this week. "It's part Hollis, part our incredible marketing department, part the fun of being able to make a fool of yourself and laugh at yourself. I learned that from Jud Heathcote. And there is a little pressure on you.
"Thank God I don't come up with those things, but I'm sure it will be something interesting, and I think our players will have some fun with it. It really is a fun night. You get to enjoy it with young kids that don't normally get to see the game."
Part of the fun on Friday will be the raising of Michigan State's 2015 Final Four banner, the seventh that Izzo has helped produce. The night will also include autograph sessions with Izzo and the players, as well as women's coach Suzy Merchant and her team.
Then it's player introductions, followed by scrimmages from both teams.
But the real show is seeing what's next for Izzo.
Back in 1999, he rode onto the court on a motorcycle. A little more than five months later, Izzo and the Spartans were crowned national champions. The next season, Izzo arrived in a limousine wearing a tuxedo.
Things were ramped up in 2002 when he rapelled from the ceiling dressed as Bruce Springsteen.
"Rapelling down from the ceiling was still one of the more eerie ones for me," Izzo said. "They pushed me off the beam and then sat me there for five minutes. I was ticked off to say the least, but made it through that one."
That wasn't the only time Izzo felt uneasy.
In 2003, he rode in on horseback. There was concern just before they went on the court that the horse's hooves would damage the floor, so they put socks on the horse. That created another set of issues.
"Then they told me they were concerned his legs might go like this," Izzo said, motioning has hands apart.
He honored the military in 2005, dressed like a vampire the following year and honored the movie "300" in 2007, dressing like a gladiator. A few years later, the star of that movie, Gerard Butler, made an appearance.
But the 30-year anniversary of the 1979 national championship team led by Magic Johnson and Greg Kelser was one Izzo highlighted. It was about more than just him that year. The players all dressed in vintage 1979 uniforms, complete with really short shorts.
"Probably my favorite one of all was the tribute to Magic and the '79 team," Izzo said. "That was more the players, watching them with the short shorts and all that stuff was fun."
The themes continued the next year. He arrived in a race car in 2009, a nod to the Final Four that season being played in Indianapolis. The next year he was an astronaut with the Final Four moving to Houston. In 2011, he arrived in a mini-fighter jet as the Spartans played that November on an aircraft carrier in San Diego.
He was "Iron Man" in 2012 followed by the cannon spoof in 2013.
"You know, I was really looking forward to getting shot out of a cannon but the university kind of nixed it," he said. "As I said a million times, my wife's boyfriend was hoping that I would do it. Other than that, I think Hollis was hoping for it but the insurance policy would be too high."
Last year, Izzo dressed in the traditional makeup and costume of the rock band KISS.
What it will be this year remains a well-kept secret. The Final Four is back in Houston, but the astronaut thing has been done. Michigan State plays a tournament in Anaheim, California – maybe a Disney theme? Or it could be something out of the blue, like playing a guitar in 10-inch boots.
Whatever it is, Izzo will be all in.
"They've all been good in their own way," he said.
Michigan State Midnight Madness
Schedule: Doors open at 8:30 p.m. at the Breslin Center and admission is free. After approximately an hour for autographs, the formal program will begin at 9:30 p.m. Women's team introductions will begin at approximately 9:50, with men's team introductions at 10:15 p.m. The evening will also include the raising of the 2015 Final Four banner, along with the first public scrimmages for the men's and women's basketball teams.
* The first 4,500 fans will receive an official 2015 Final Four seat cushion. The cushions will be distributed at platforms 106, 111, 120, 124, 129 and 135 on the Breslin Center concourse.
* The official 2015-16 Michigan State men's and women's basketball posters and schedule cards will be available on the concourse at platforms 104, 113, 122 and 131.
* With hockey beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, parking will be limited surrounding the Breslin Center. Parking will be $5 prior to 7:15, and free after 7:15 if space is available.
* There will be a free shuttle service beginning at 7:30 p.m. back-and-forth between the Breslin Center and the Communications Arts and Sciences parking ramp (Ramp 5), which is located on the corner of Red Cedar Road and Trowbridge Road.
* Cars must be removed from all lots after the event. Because of football on Saturday there will be no overnight parking in the lots around the Breslin Center and Spartan Stadium.
Autograph table locations
* Coach Tom Izzo: Across from section 108.
* Matt Costello, Eron Harris, Tum Tum Nairn Jr., Kenny Goins, Matt McQuaid: Across from section 106.
* Bryn Forbes, Colby Wollenman, Gavin Schilling, Javon Bess, Deyonta Davis, Conner George: Across from section 102.
* Denzel Valentine, Matt Van Dyk, Alvin Ellis III, Marvin Clark Jr., Kyle Ahrens: Across from section 127.
* Coach Suzy Merchant: Across from section 129.
* Akyah Taylor, Tori Jankoska, Kennedy Johnson, Jenna Allen, Octavia Barnes: Across from section 110.
* Jasmine Hines, Branndais Agee, Lexi Gussert, Kalabrya Gondrezick: Across from section 120.
* Cara Miller, Aerial Powers, Morgan Green, Victoria Gaines, Hana Vesela: Across from section 128.