Michigan State's Tom Izzo 'not really worried about' Mel Tucker-LSU rumors
East Lansing — Everyone knows where Tom Izzo will be on Saturday — in the stands at Spartan Stadium watching No. 8 Michigan State take on No. 6 Michigan in one of the most anticipated meeting in the history of the rivalry.
And the Spartans’ basketball coach says he’ll do it without out an ounce of concern as to where Mel Tucker’s mind is, even as Tucker has been rumored as a possible candidate to take over as the head coach at LSU next season.
“Let me tell you,” Izzo said. “When that leather shoe hits that leather ball, ain’t gonna be nothing else thought about but winning the game. I promise you that on Saturday.”
Beyond that, Izzo doesn’t seem concerned, either, that Tucker will be going anytime soon as the second-year coach has Michigan State unbeaten through seven games and pushing for a shot at a conference championship.
On top of that, the Spartans are in the early stages of some significant renovations to facilities, including the football building that recently received a $20 million donation from former MSU basketball player and United Wholesale Mortgage CEO Mat Ishbia.
“Every indication that Mel's given me, I mean, we are fundraising and we are working,” Izzo said courtside at the Breslin Center after his team practiced Tuesday. “We are going to have an incredible football facility. We are stepping up right now and it's been fun because it's been all of us. Everybody is working together to get to a place, and I don't think there's any question about it: He wants a place like this place. Then he wants the consistency, and having a winning team, as I’ve said, it’s OK. But having a winning program is something legacies are made of.”
Still, the rumblings don’t come at the perfect time for a team trying to prepare for its biggest game of the year and biggest game yet under Tucker, who on Monday said his focus remains on Michigan. Players have heard the noise, and on Monday, senior safety Xavier Henderson brushed it off, saying his teammates have hardly talked about it.
To Izzo, who is entering his 27th season as the Spartans’ head coach and has dealt with his share of job rumors, it’s almost to be expected these days.
“I’m not really worried about it,” Izzo said. “I've talked to Mel and I think in this day and age it’s just part of the deal. Is it hard? I mean, it's hard, but there's always going to be a rumor. Are you taking a new job? Are you getting fired? Very seldom is it, ‘Oh man, that coach did a hell of a job and he's gonna be here for a while.’ Instead it’s, ‘Is he getting fired because he didn't do a good enough job,’ or ‘Is he leaving because he did too good a job?’”