Tom Izzo remembers father’s rich life

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Tom Izzo was coaching his team Tuesday at Iowa and is expected to coach Saturday in Minnesota before traveling home.

Iowa City — For a man who spent years in the family business doing shoe repairs, laying carpets and other home improvements, Carl Izzo sure lived a very rich life.

That, in large part, was because of Michigan State.

MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo expressed that sentiment to president Lou Anna K. Simon when she called to offer condolences on the passing of Izzo's father on Monday.

"Man, if it wasn't for Michigan State, he wouldn't have had as good of a life," Izzo said on Tuesday night's pregame radio show, before the Big Ten opener against Iowa. "It's been a little sad, and a little happy. We all have to deal with it.

"I realize there are a lot of people worse off than I am."

Carl Izzo died at the age of 90 in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Funeral arrangements are expected to take place over the weekend in Iron Mountain in the Upper Peninsula, where Carl and Dorothy Izzo raised Tom Izzo, 60, and his two sisters.

Izzo coached Tuesday night, an 83-70 loss to Iowa for MSU's first defeat of the season, and is expected to coach Saturday in Minnesota before traveling home.

"I feel blessed my Dad was with me for 90 years," Izzo said after the game. "It's different. I'll spend a little more time on the plane thinking of the good times.

"My Dad was just kind of a two-job, blue-collar immigrant that worked his posterior off most of his life.

"That's what I asked of my team tonight — don't honor him with a win, honor him by how we play. That might have been the most disappointing of all the things that've happened."

MSU senior Matt Costello was, likewise, not pleased the Spartans didn't show up with a big-time effort in tribute to Carl Izzo.

"We wanted to win for him," Costello said.

Iowa honored Carl Izzo with a moment of silence before the game.

Then Izzo received a nice ovation from the sellout crowd during pregame introductions.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery had called Izzo on Monday night to express condolences — one of countless calls and texts he received, from Spartan Nation and beyond.

"I've got some good friends in this profession," Izzo said after the game.

Before the game, on the radio show, he said, "It really doesn't matter if you live to be 110 or you live to be 25, it still hurts the same. It's been a wicked couple of days because it all happened so fast.

"The blessing is that so many Michigan State people, so many of you guys that have helped me and my family, the texts, the calls I have gotten make you appreciate that your dad had an impact on your life.

"I appreciate the thoughts."

Carl and Dorothy Izzo joined Tom Izzo on many of his journeys through the NCAA Tournament, and Tom Izzo noted on his pregame radio show how Carl Izzo would "hold court" in the hotel lobby during the Final Fours.

Izzo said he started to reflect on his relationship with his father on Monday afternoon's trip from East Lansing to Iowa City.
Carl Izzo is survived by Dorothy and their three children.

"I got to spend and do some incredible things with him," Tom Izzo said. "I think of the great things he got to do because of my job.

"The goods way outweigh the bad."