Stories indexed with the term ‘Tom Izzo’

Column: Michigan-MSU Rivalry Recharges

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

On Sunday, the Michigan Wolverines faced the Michigan State Spartans in the final of the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament. After a decade of domination by the Spartans, John Beilein’s Wolverines held the upper hand the past four years. After losing two stars to the NBA and one to back surgery, they surprised just about everyone when they won the regular season Big Ten title this year by three games. Now they had the rare chance to beat the Spartans three times in one season.

Well, they say beating your arch-rival three times is almost impossible, and that proved true. There was no debating this one. The Spartans beat the Wolverines by 14 points. Spartans’ head coach Tom Izzo is doing what Tom Izzo does: Getting his team ready at just the right time for a good run in the NCAA tournament.

But Sunday’s game might have given both teams what they needed for the tournament: a spark of confidence for the Spartans, and a wake-up call for the Wolverines. I’ll bet both Izzo and Beilein are smart enough to use the Big Ten final game to motivate their players.

But, whatever happens in the NCAA tournament, both teams have elevated basketball in the state of Michigan – and with it, the rivalry between them. And they’ve done it the right way, too. [Full Story]

Column: The Crazy Days of June

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

For college coaches and athletes, June is supposed to be reserved for easy chores like conducting camps, fixing tackling dummies and replacing nets.

Well, so much for the lazy, hazy days of summer. This has been one of the craziest Junes of all time.

The NCAA finally completed its four-year investigation of the cesspool that is the University of Southern California’s athletic department. The NCAA was shocked – shocked! – to discover USC’s boosters were giving tens of thousands of dollars to their star players. (The NCAA officials must have been the last folks to know.)

But, to its credit, the NCAA actually came down with some consequences: a two-year ban on bowl games, and the loss of 10 scholarships for the next three years. The school cheated for wins and for money, and their punishment will cost them wins and money – though probably not as many wins and as much money as they gained by cheating.

That would have been pretty big news by itself. But then the Big Ten started talking about expanding, which sent every major conference into a paranoid frenzy, trying to keep their leagues intact. Rumors started flying about this school and that conference. Some said the Big Ten might expand to as many as 16 teams, including Notre Dame, and the Big Eight, the Big East and maybe even the venerable ACC would collapse. [Full Story]