East Lansing – As Michigan State’s search for a football coach continues, there’s one university employee who is ready and willing to help.
Basketball coach Tom Izzo, who was on the committee that ultimately chose Mark Dantonio as the Spartans’ football coach back in November of 2006, said he’ll once again be available to do whatever it takes for Michigan State to find Dantonio’s replacement.
“I want to be I want to do whatever I can do to help the university and the football program,” Izzo said after his team wrapped up practice on Thursday evening. “I know where football is in my mind and I know what I think of football. But more importantly, I know that when football is good, basketball is better and every other sport is better. It's just the way it is. So I'll do whatever they want me to do.”
The timing of this search is tougher than the one that landed on Dantonio. The Spartans are currently just past the halfway point in the Big Ten season and with Saturday’s game at Michigan, it’s the thick of the title chase for Izzo’s team.
That means Izzo won’t be part of the day-to-day process, but according to athletic director Bill Beekman, Izzo will be an important part of the search.
“He’s in midseason, so having him as an active member of this search as he was that time, will be challenging,” Beekman said. “But I think Coach Izzo is an important voice in our department and will be an important voice in this process.”
Izzo certainly has his hands full as Michigan State attempts to end a two-game skid by winning its fifth straight against Michigan. In the meantime, Izzo gets updates on the search and is ready to jump in when he can.
“They tell me what what's going on, but I'm gonna do my job,” Izzo said. “I'm just going to help. I have a lot of connections to a lot of people; I know people that I can call. So, I'll do whatever they want on that. I mean, three phone calls at 10 o'clock at night isn't changing my prep for anybody.
“And I do think it's smart to have coaches involved a little bit because we have to work with the guy, too. The relationships I've had with football coaches over the years has been phenomenal. It's made my job better. I think it's made their job better.”
As for the search itself, there were no significant changes Friday. Sources have indicated to The Detroit News that a list of candidates is still being formulated and interviews have yet to begin.
There’s plenty of speculation that Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell is the top choice, though Fickell hasn’t said much about the Michigan State opening other than a radio interview on Wednesday when he said he hadn’t talked to anyone at Michigan State.
Sources at Michigan State said a new coach likely won’t be hired until late next week or beyond, adding there is no timeline or "sense of urgency" to make a hire.
When the time comes for Izzo’s input, he says he’ll be available.
“They're not going to inundate me with things because they know I'm in season,” Izzo said. “But the last 20 years I've been a big-picture guy. I'm more worried about the entire university and all the things that go on and not just my program. So whatever they need from me, they'll get it from me, and yet I think they've got things under control so far.”