Michigan State coach Tom Izzo talks about the way the college is game is being called. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
East Lansing — At one point Sunday night during Michigan State’s victory over Florida Gulf Coast, Spartans coach Tom Izzo was assessed a technical foul.
Nothing out of the ordinary there. Izzo has never been one to keep his feelings to himself, especially with the officials.
“Definitely earned,” Izzo said after the Spartans 106-82 victory. “Immaturity on my part.”
But, as Izzo took the podium for his postgame press conference, there would be no criticism of officials. Instead, the Michigan State coach spent the better part of his 25 minutes defending the referees and criticizing the NCAA for what he calls “over-legislating” of the game.
Specifically, it is the “freedom of movement” push the college game has seen over the last several years that Izzo believes has gotten out of hand and is hurting the game.
“What they want is a big sideshow here,” Izzo said. “Let's score 150 points, the other team scores 140. … I just think it's sad what we're doing to the game.”
Officials Bo Boroski, Mike Eades and Bill Ek called 40 fouls Sunday night, but Izzo wanted to make it clear he wasn’t putting the onus on the referees, pointing out that it was Florida Gulf Coast that probably had more of a gripe.
Instead, it was those — the rule committee, specifically — that are demanding the officials call the game a certain way.
“I've been here 24 years as a head coach, I'm not sure I have ever felt bad for an official,” Izzo said. “The way they've got them calling this game right now to me is as ridiculous … the poor officials are mandated. If they don't call it this way, they don't work the NCAA Tournament.
“I mean I'm going to say it until I'm blue and then after tonight hopefully never say it because I can't stick up for those guys too much you know that's un-American, so I feel for them. I mean it's embarrassing people are booing. … It is not their fault either and I just think we've over-legislated. One thing goes wrong and you over-legislate, we've over-legislated this whole thing right now. Our best players are going to be on the bench. Our best players are going to be ejected. I don't get it. I just don't get it.”
What seemed to make Sunday’s game tougher for Izzo to take were the delays for review. At least three times the officials had to go to the monitor after three flagrant fouls were called on Florida Gulf Coast. Those calls are all reviewable now and one, when Nick Ward was undercut on a rebound, resulted in an ejection for the Eagles’ Haanif Cheatham.
Later in the game, Florida Gulf Coast's Brady Ernst asked for a review and then he was assessed a flagrant foul.
“The stoppage of action in that game made it the most boring game,” Izzo said.
By the final few minutes of the game, Izzo simply stood with his hands crossed, leaning against the scorer’s table.
He was asked afterward if he thinks things will even out as the season progresses, much like it has in past seasons.
“Do I think it'll get better?” Izzo said. “It's going to be a fight between coaches and people who are on the rules committee. I just think we've overreacted to making this where nobody wants to be able to guard anybody. I just vehemently don't agree with it. I'll lose that battle. But I think there are other coaches…
“The reason that this is different, it's not only become a free throw contest, now we are ejecting people. We are going to have people on the bench. I mean if you guys want to watch my freshmen play compared to my juniors play that's good.
“I can't stand the way it is being called, or, the way it is being administered by the people up above.”