Tom Izzo Turns Down Cavaliers, Will Remain at Michigan State

Despite our earlier report that Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo had told certain players that he was planning on accepting the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching job, he has since decided instead to remain at MSU. In a press conference Tuesday night, Izzo spoke to reporters and cited his loyalty to MSU as well as uncertainty about the future of LeBron James as reasons for his decision.

The fact that LeBron James’ silence was a factor shouldn’t be a surprise. The fact that LeBron James is determined to keep the hype and suspense about his future alive well past July 1st (as is his right to do) is going to be a tough hurdle for the Cavaliers to overcome going forward.

As we’ve been saying, nobody knows if Izzo was going to be the right guy for this job or not, but once again the Cavaliers franchise is faced with yet another public relations setback. The Cavaliers were a team desperate for some good news, but came up short again. 

In fact, the Cavaliers haven’t had much of anything to smile about since May 7th. That night, the Cavaliers thrashed the Celtics in Boston to take a 2-1 series lead and most felt that the Cavaliers had found their stride and were on their way. Instead, the Cavaliers went on to lose 3 straight games to the Celtics, including one particularly embarrassing Game 5 loss in which LeBron didn’t even seem to care or try.

From there, the Cavaliers have seen LeBron shut down and check out from the franchise, reportedly not even talking to ownership right now. Mike Brown was then fired, and soon after Dan Gilbert decided not to bring Danny Ferry back as GM. When these developments are looked as sequentially, it puts Izzo’s decision to stay away into better perspective.

With flawless hindsight at our disposal, many are beginning to almost suggest that Gilbert made a mistake in firing Mike Brown. Even Plain Dealer beat writer Brian Windhorst seems to be continuously hinting that the Cavs shouldn’t have parted ways with Brown and Ferry. However, that’s easy to say in the face of public rejection, but it doesn’t change the fact that Mike Brown was not getting the job done and a fresh, new voice was needed. Maybe the Cavaliers will find a better coach than Mike Brown, maybe they won’t. However, keeping Mike Brown and just trying to keep status quo on a team that was incapable of winning a championship despite arguably being the best team in the NBA for 2 consecutive seasons would have been foolish.

So for now, Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant will continue to look for the right person to bring that fresh, new voice to this team. Despite all the naysayers who project nothing but doom for this franchise should LeBron James leave, I will continue to stand steadfast in my belief that not only can the Cavaliers survive without LeBron, but this coaching job still has plenty of advantages that make it a desirable job to take.

Say what you will about Dan Gilbert, but he swung for the fences with Tom Izzo and he came unbelievably close to pulling off a miracle. It speaks volumes to Gilbert’s character, passion, and business sense as an owner that he was almost able to bring in a coach like Tom Izzo even without a firm commitment from LeBron. It’s that same tenacity and persistence that give Gilbert a chance to lead the Cavaliers back to success in the future even without LeBron, and there are plenty of coaches who would love to have that kind of support from their owner.

But without LeBron, of course it won’t be easy. Byron Scott is believed by many to be Gilbert’s next preference, but Scott is likely to at least wait until the Lakers coaching situation is settled. If Scott is still available after that, he may look at the Cavaliers, but even then he is likely to only think about taking the job if LeBron is back in Cleveland. Considering the earliest date LeBron is allowed to sign a contract anywhere is July 8th, the Cavaliers are likely looking at a long wait now until the coaching vacancy is filled.

With Jeff Van Gundy rumored to have already passed on interviewing for the job, the only remaining known candidates that have been reported to be on the Cavs’ radar after Byron Scott are Kelvin Sampson and Chris Jent. In all likelihood, the Cavaliers will now have to cast a bit of a wider net in order to find more legit candidates for the job. Personally, I am still holding out hope that Gilbert will at least let Bill Laimbeer interview for the job, but as of now, there have been no indications that he’s on Gilbert’s radar.


Finally, briefly, regarding our report that Izzo told players he was leaving MSU for the Cavs: We had information that was verified by a number of sources and we reported what those sources told us. To this day we stand by these sources as individuals who were in position to have direct knowledge of what happened between Tom Izzo and certain players. We have no reason to believe the sources weren’t told what they thought, but it is now clear that they were either wrong or things changed.

Given this same information from the same sources again, we would report it again, but more clearly and cautiously. We have learned from this. It happened, and we will work to do better going forward.


Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

  • TSR3000


    I get that you take pride in the site. I would too. WFNY is excellent, really. But sometimes you have to man-up and take your medicine. If you go back and read the article AND the ego stroking article that followed, you might see how ridiculous it is to come on here today and defend how you guys handled the whole thing.

    As for telling me to go look for another blog- class act, brah. Way to take the few people who actually ask for more from you and tell them to hit the road. Surrounding yourself with yes men is never a good idea.

    Ok I gotta get back to work.

  • mgbode
  • Matt#2


    leave it to the Germans to have an eye-catching logo

  • Tommy

    First Joel comes on here arguing how WFNY was irresponsible for posting the story, but when his argument breaks down, he just ends up bashing on the Cavs minus Lebron… awesome.

  • mgbode

    ok, I could re-post that response, but I think it’ll be more fun to have everyone guess what was said 🙂

  • Honeyman Joel

    @ Tommy. You clearly must have failed reading comprehension in school.

  • trivialstuff

    I said this before, but a large part of why this site is taking some heat is because MSM outlets took their report and ran with it. That isn’t the author’s fault. So if you are demanding an apology that demand should be directed at other outlets as well.

    Personally, I was satisfied with their statement on this post. And I have been among those who have been critical of their decision to run the story. I still think it was a mistake, but that’s just my opinion.

    I know most of the readers here don’t care, but I am interested in this both becaus of Izzo and because of how it represents a lot of the issues we are seeing in media so I’m going to go off one more time on a tangent. And I’m not saying that my opinion is directed squarely at WFNY there are blogs out there with far less credibility than this one. I just think it’s an interesting discussion about where media is right now, and where it is heading.

    In the end they need to directly answer to are their own readers,who they misled inadvertently or not. Apparently a lot of their readers are satisfied with the way this site operates, so they are doing well.

    But as Ty said, there is one other group that is impacted by the decisions they make, the people they are covering as well. Whether they mean to or not. I think that is one of the problems with how blogs/twitter/ etc are developing. There is no accountability to the people being covered. The internet is often anonymous, and if not anonymous so vast that it is impossible for a person in a story this size to be aware of who is writing what about them. There is no direct accountability, and like I said this isn’t limited to this site, it’s just a symptom of modern media. You can essentially write what you want without any real consequences. If you get it wrong you say “well our sources told this, and they were credible at the time.” That doesn’t change the fact that it was WRONG. I thought the statement on this post came close to admitting that.

    Like Joel, I thought the way this story played out was a fascinating example of how modern media operates. And Izzo did take some people to task last night. And you’ll notice that Izzo kept saying “you’re not up here” to Lynn Henning. Meaning, how are you going to try and speculate about what is going on in the hearts and minds of the administrators, fans, or Izzo himself, when you’re in Detroit writing about MSU once every few months. That’s what I mean by accountability. I followed almost every word that was written on this story, and the people who provided the best coverage of this story were the beat writers who do their job and are accountable to their readers, their editors, and their subjects.

    So yea, I appreciate WFNY’s clarification that they would have chosen their words more carefully. And it would have been better if they had written it differently and if the MSM hadn’t thrown the story out into the world. But this isn’t about getting one story wrong. It’s about the internet creating a forum where rumors become stories become facts in a span of a few minutes, and nobody ever has to answer for it.

  • BillTheHammer

    Haters please stop justifying yourself. You have calmed down because the story is over, and you got what you were hoping for. Don’t spin it with the journalism B.S. this is what the media is today. Its all the National Enquirer.

  • Honeyman Joel

    @ Hammer. “I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” Bobby Knight’s

  • Tommy

    @Honeymoon Joel

    2/21/10 at East Lansing 74-67

    And good luck guarding Jared Sullinger

  • Honeyman Joel

    @ Tommy. March is a more important month to us Spartans than February. And you’re welcome for the revenge we got for you guys against Tennessee.

  • Matt#2


    I think the “answering for it” has improved (and the real “answering for it” in court hasn’t changed, to my knowledge).

    The writers here aren’t hiding behind editors.

  • Let’s tone down the blame of new media for this kind of rabid reporting. Sports reporting (and reporting in general) has never been 100% accurate even before blogs. The NY Post and the Daily News sports sections didn’t become rumor-mongering rags just recently.

    Papers for decades have been going to press with stories with perfectly viable sources that ended up being wrong. If a retraction is offered at all it’s usually less than when WFNY just did and buried on page 16 of the Metro section.

  • trivialstuff

    Matt2- Like I said, I think this blog has handled it better than others who have simply pretended erroneous reports never happened. I appreciate that.

    As I said this particular story brought me to this site, but I have had an interest in this issue beyond that. I strongly disagree with Hammer’s comment about the National Enquirer. There is good reporting being done out there, and there needs to be more of it. Sure in this instance we’re talking about a guy who coaches basketball moving from one team to another, but there are real societal consequences to the direction media is trending. that’s not a discussion for this forum though so I will step down off my soapbox.

    Also, I would like to say I agree that ESPN has gotten plenty of stories wrong too, and I’d like to see more accountability from them as well. For anyone else who is interested I’d go through the archives of their Ombudsman. I haven’t read the current one as frequently, but the previous woman Lee Ann Schreiber wrote some outstanding pieces about the use of anonymous sources and the rumor mill. I’ll try and stop now.

  • @ ParkerSucks: Why do I have to ruin everything :'[

  • TJ in Columbus

    You guys need to decide if you are a blog or you are trying to be amateur journalists. First the foray into cavaliers insider mode through press conference attendance and locker room interviews, now a mistaken report of what Izzo said to players? Can we just go back to what you do mediocre, that being giving us the boring/cliche fans point of view?

    Did anyone else see Seth Davis’ twitter feed? He is certainly not content with your apology.

  • As for telling me to go look for another blog- class act, brah.

    No less classy than telling us we embarrass you… (I root for you to do good and you only embarrass me as a fan. Thank God it is only sports that you guys cover.)

    …or to immediately also basically tell us you think we’re not trying to make this blog the very best that we can… (Way to take the few people who actually ask for more from you and tell them to hit the road. Surrounding yourself with yes men is never a good idea.)

    We very clearly value our readers. There wouldn’t *be* a WFNY without our readers. We love the dialogue that’s here in our comments sections and through the tip e-mails we receive each and every day. To that end, we also DO value constructive criticism. I can’t imagine anyone who reads this blog regularly thinking that all ten of us agree on everything all of the time and/or never constructively criticize each other. A team of yes-men? Hardly.

    I won’t go into specifics, but I think it would surprise many of you to know how many e-mails we as a staff have sent back and forth about this story and the backlash to it. We take it very seriously, both for ourselves and for all of our readers. We know you have expectations, and we do our best to meet those expectations. We also recognize that we’re going to fall short of them from time to time.

    All of that having been said, what I–and I’m speaking in this comment only for myself and not for any of the other writers–have little tolerance for is criticism that has no real substance and therefore no real value. I’m sorry if we didn’t meet your expectations. Please remember that we all have regular jobs, and work above and beyond those requirements–for free–to create this blog each and every day.

    To that end, if all you have to say is that we “embarrass” you, well, I read that as more of a direct insult than any kind of constructive criticism for how we can make this blog better. There’s nothing constructive–or dare I say, classy, even?–about it.

    And so, while I will apologize for the tone of my initial suggestion that there are many other Cleveland blogs (and the implication that I’m telling you to go somewhere else), I’m not going to apologize for defending myself and my co-writers, or for taking offense to someone basically coming by only to metaphorically piss on the ashes of our burned-down house.

  • I-Hate-UofM

    Unfortunately for this blog…outside of those who were original readers from the beginning and those that can be considered “regular” readers now…all it takes now-a-days is a “whoops” moment like this to injure what appears to be a decent blog (based on the other reports I read on here).
    The scary thing…is that the Cleveland Cavs coaching search is starting to run parallel to the University of Michigan football coaching search from a few years back…and ALL of us in Spartan Nation know how well that has turned out…
    Izzo chose to remain a Spartan for life…Byron Scott is likely to wait to see what happens with the Lakers before considering the Cavs…so it seems that Cleveland is already a backup option depending on LA…who’s option #3…
    I’m feeling sorry for you guys because you deserve better.

  • Thanks, TJ in Columbus, for making it so that I don’t have to feel like I’m singling out TSR3000.

    Hey, at least we’re mediocre! Woo hoo!

  • stin4u

    OMG not Seth Davis…nooooooooooooooooooo

  • stin4u


  • JM

    SURELY THIS BACKLASH WILL BE THE DOWNFALL OF WFNY AND YOU HACK WRITERS WILL SHUT IT DOWN. To be serious, who cares? Give these guys come credit. They did their best to break the story. They made a mistake, move on.

  • Nick

    When this site broke the Izzo story, there were some pretty aggressive things being written and said about you guys and ‘blogs’ in general. Then many blogs wrote stories about how those criticisms went too far and were unfair, and that in this day and age internet reports from smaller media outlets are totally legit. Well, the fact that you guys got the report 100% wrong doesn’t really help your credibility and the credibility of ‘blogs’. Be more careful next time when reporting this kind of stuff, because it has an impact even beyond this site. When big media calls you out, you better be right if you want to be taken seriously in the future.

    As much as I love sites like this and I hate big media outlets like ESPN, there’s a reason why they break news and many other sites don’t. There’s a reason why I trust guys like Brian Windhorst- it’s their job, and they get it right consistently enough to be trusted.

  • stin4u


  • I bet that people don’t buy a lot of mini horses on the internet.

  • GP

    “…………many are beginning to almost suggest that Gilbert made a mistake in firing Mike Brown. Even Plain Dealer beat writer Brian Windhorst seems to be continuously hinting that the Cavs shouldn’t have parted ways with Brown and Ferry. ”

    I feel part of that thought process is correct. They should have kept Brown and let Ferry go. The more Ferry tried to improve the team, he kept giving Brown players that didn’t work well in Browns system. You can talk about his mis matches like Shaq on Garnett during the playoffs, but he had to use what he was given and if a team is gonna quit on you because they don’t have the talent to execute the game plan (i.e. play defense) maybe you do need to light a fire under their ass with weird match ups to spark something.

    My humble opinion..sorry, don’t have an opinion on journalism and reporting.

  • stin4u

    @Denny –

    Lucrative…I’m calling my broker as we speak.

  • alan t.

    That post#66 is right on point. They started letting fans into press conferences and into locker rooms, and now suddenly everybody thinks they’re Pete Vecsey and Woodward and Bernstein.

    Oh, and post#73 … Windhorst also experienced a gargantuan blunder. Or don’t you remember when, for years, he chastised everybody when people said James had a big market escalator clause in his Nike contract. And then after years of telling everybody they were wrong, he was forced to publicly apologize because he had been played and made a total fool by his rotten source. Indeed, there was an escalator clause in James’ Nike contract.

    But bottom line, when it comes to this blog, it’s just a bunch of fans hacking away with their own fan opinions. Never again pretend it’s anything more. Please. Of course you still will, but clearly, it’s not.

  • TJ in Columbus

    I like what Nick has to say. But I have a different take. When WFNY “broke” this story, it was followed by many of them beating their chest, saying they wouldn’t get any credit when it happened.

    It would have been right for them to not be credited, and here’s why:

    As with any blog reporting, there are no consequences if they get it wrong. If journalists get stories wrong it effects their credibility and that can effect their employment.

    WFNY will go on, and their only penalty is sifting through some rough emails and surviving these jabs in their comment sections.

    Just be a blog, its fine, some people seem to like you.

  • stin4u

    @78 and 79 – *yawn* are you done now? can I have my soap box back?

  • JM

    I don’t consider Windy that credible these days. Considering LeBron don’t even talk to him, well that’s not the best beat writer. Plus he was all over Brown when he was let go yet now that no one else and i mean NO ONE is out there he feels the Cavs made a mistake. Same with Chris Grant actually being involved in anything GM related since Ferry took over. As for WFNY we love you guys and what you do. Just move on from this blunder.

  • Gordo

    @ post #78 … uhhh, great point on the Nike escalator clause (except for the part where you’re completely wrong):

    also, pete vecsey is your example of a good sports writer? that guy is an all-time hack.

    windy’s got the best information of anyone in the country when it comes to lebron. period.

  • alan t.

    #82, do you think Windhorst publicly apologized for yucks? Don’t point me to some dumb link. Windhorst issued a very public written mea culpa. Why? Because he was wrong about the Nike contract and he admitted it.

    And yeah, you sure know your basketball sportswriters. The guy gets inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and you’re calling him a hack. Shrewd.

  • The Champ
  • stin4u

    @84 – for a name like “The Champ” your a little late to the party my friend….just sayin………

  • William Charles

    Is it lonely up there on your pedestal? Is your face red you’re so embarrassed about reading this site? Does any reader of this site have a WFNY tattoo?

    Guys, keep up the good work. I’m not gonna lose perspective because you missed on a report. The site is based on opinion and analysis – it’s not like I’m necessarily coming here for breaking news. And I think most regulars will agree… unless they think you somehow made them look bad.

    One request – can you put up a full post RSS feed? It’d be so much easier to read on phones. Do that and I’ll consider the tattoo.

  • Sean

    WFNY-I am not saying you are right or wrong and I don’t care to get in the debate about WFNY’s crediblity but I have a question. What did you think of Izzo’s interview on the Dan Patrick show? It was pretty clear that he was referencing your blog about the reports. What do you think of his indirect references to your blog?

  • Ike

    This whole Izzo saga isn’t going to stop me from reading WFNY. If it causes you to, then don’t come to the site. I really don’t understand what the big deal is.

  • calijawn

    “All things considered, most of the Izzo coverage was reasonable and well-considered, and with the exception of one erroneous blog report, most outlets were willing to keep speculation and rumor-reporting in check until Izzo himself said something of importance.”

    And so WFNY goes national, again.

  • Gordo

    #83 – my “dumb link” is what people actually call “supporting evidence”. you, on the other hand, are citing an apology that i never saw / can’t seem to find on the web (and you provide no link). forgive me, but until you show me this windhorst apology, i’m going to take darren rovell’s reporting over some random dude on the internet.

    and just for good measure, if you’re talking about his NEW deal, here’s CNBC reporting that there are no escalators even in the new deal:

    vecsey is a hack, HoF or not, but we’ll agree to disagree on this one. can’t teach taste…

  • I was all for giving Izzo a chance. I like Brown and all, but let’s face it.. he has plenty of opportunities to get a decent team + the best player on earth to a championship and failed. If we only had him 1, 2, even 3 years… yeah, firing him would have been premature. But 5 years? Proof that Brown is good enough to get you there, but not over the hump. Or, maybe that’s just having LeBron on your team, I dunno.

    As for journalism and WFNY… I love you guys. You did what any journalist does- get info from sources you consider reputable and break a story, in hopes that it’ll prove true and strengthen your reputation. Sometimes it doesn’t.. sometimes people change their minds or there was a miscommunication. What you reported specifically has not been proven false.. Izzo could have changed his mind, the sources could have gotten the wrong idea, who knows. All you can do going forward is to add a little more “FWIW” and less definiteness, I guess. Which is basically what you said.

  • alan t.

    #90, do the legwork yourself, I’m not doing it for you. Windhorst posted his apology on his old Beacon Journal blog. Loosen up your mouse finger and look it up.

  • alan t.

    Ah, what the hell. You got me obsessed to find it. Here ya go. Enjoy.

    “Setting the record straight

    July 19, 2006 – 9:10 am

    Las Vegas — My reporting was wrong. Some of my sources turned out to be inaccurate. For the last two years I have reported that LeBron James’ endorsement contracts have location bonuses except for his Nike contract. I got this information from numerous conversations over the course of three years.

    I have recently learned from different sources that the Nike contract does have a location bonus. It is not a huge one, one that doubles his deal or would make the difference between signing a max contract or signing for the mid-level exception. I wanted to wait until after LeBron signed his contract to discuss it on in this forum because the last thing I want is more speculation about LeBron’s grand plans and all his desires to go to New York or whatever.

    LeBron has signed his second contract with the Cavs. He is committed to the Cavs today as he was four years ago when he was drafted. I would advise fans to prepare yourselves for constant speculation on his future for the next 10-12 years, it is the nature of the beast. Every three or four years he’s going to come up for a contract and at least a year before he does, there will be stories and commentators who suggest he will be going elsewhere. In fact, it won’t just be contract time, if the Cavs have a down few months, some will predict he’ll demand to be traded. Prepare yourselves to live with as a cost of having a superstar in Middle America.

    In the next few years, Nike will probably give James a new and richer contract. It will probably include location bonuses, too. It is business. If I were a fan, I’d be more concerned about basketball and how the Cavs get better.

    So I have set the record straight and I’m going to move on permanently, I’m sorry that I led you astray in the past. I hope it does not happen again in the future, but I will continue working hard to give you the best Cavs/LeBron coverage I can here and in the paper.

    Starting this morning, I will be covering Team USA’s preparations for the FIBA World Championships gearing up for my trip to Japan next month. We have some exciting and innovative plans for coverage in the Beacon Journal and on Hope you’ll enjoy it.”

  • Gordo

    #93 … well done, i stand corrected in that this apology actually exists.

    not to be a right fighter here, but i think my 2008 link supersedes the 2006 quote that you posted, no?

  • alan t.

    Gordo: No.

  • Gordo

    #95 – ha, somehow i knew that would be your response.

    you were right that windhorst apologized, but i maintain (based on the more recent cnbc link i provided) that there was no escalator clause in his original nike contract.

    what’s more, it’s becoming clear that there is no escalator clause in his recent extension, which obviously is the more salient point.