Where he came from, of course, is Iron Mountain, Mich., in the state’s Upper Peninsula. Where the men are men, and the women are, too, as Izzo likes to say.
It’s hard to come out of the snowbound, sparsely populated UP with either a soft streak or a sense of entitlement. Izzo has neither.
What he does have is an abiding loyalty to the place. Every season, he invites a busload of locals — Yoopers, as they’re affectionately known — to a Michigan State home game, providing them with tickets and even entertaining them at his house. The trip is so popular that there’s a waiting list to get on the bus. (Either that, or there’s just that many people dying to visit civilization for a couple of days.)
Sportswriter Pat Forde wrote a nice article on the ESPN.com website about MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo (below). He is from the same part of Michigan as I am. He is shown below dressed as a hippie on the first night of the practices. It was open to the public and the evening was the anniversary of MSU’s 1979 national championship, hence the 70’s theme. If you recall, that team was lead by Magic Johnson. I can still remember the starting lineup, Terry Donnelly, Ron Charles, Greg Kelser, and Jay Vincent. Amazing how Magic could make his teammates so much better. That is a sign of a great basketball player. Izzo has been the coach at MSU for the past 13 seasons and also won a national championship. You can learn more about him from his recruiting website.