MSU Basketball: The Tom Izzo Anti-Twitter Lecture of 2014

It’s no secret that Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo is not a fan of the social media.

And mainly Twitter.

About thirteen months ago, Izzo went off on the impact that social media websites such as Twitter can have on the young student athletes growing up and playing in today’s world, prompting one certain isportsweb writer to post this article on the impact of the social media.

Flash-forward to the present day and Izzo is at it again. Prompted by questions on ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the morning show about the situation with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart shoving a fan in his team’s loss to Texas Tech on Saturday, Izzo expressed his displeasure with Twitter as a reason for what may have ultimately triggered Smart’s reaction.

Tom Izzo (Photo by J.D. Pooley/AP)

Tom Izzo (Photo by J.D. Pooley/AP)

And one day later at Izzo’s weekly press conference in the confines of the Breslin Center meeting rooms on the campus of Michigan State University, Izzo continued to go into great detail about his feelings on the social media website, so much so that he said well over 2000 words on the subject on Tuesday.

Here’s a summary of some of the top quotes and main points brought up by Izzo at the press conference:

When prompted by a question of Gary Harris’ rough shooting day at Wisconsin, that’s when Izzo went into it.

“We used to be able to go to a game and have a bad game and leave the game and you never heard about it because nobody read what you guys wrote. Students don’t and they don’t watch local TV. They are too busy tweeting people. They never heard about it. You go down to Ann Arbor, you get maligned or they come up here and you get on the bus and it’s over. It’s never over. It’s 24/7, 365 days a year. I’m gonna tell you now, if I called any one of you what they get called 24/7, 365 days a year, you’d be fighting. You’d be upset. You’d be bummed out. The thing on ESPN, they asked me a question and I gave them an honest answer. ……

“I’ve been saying this for two years. And I think you’re starting to see some of the things that are happening. You think fans are any different than they were five years ago? I don’t. I mean, I’ve been called an angry midget since I went to Ann Arbor, you know? And I’m sure they’ve been called stuff since they’ve come here. I’m sure we got on the Fab Five when they went here. That hasn’t changed that much. It’s, there’s so much pressure on these kids and they’re hearing it just around the clock, around the clock, around the clock. And I loved when Greeny said to Golic, ‘Well then tell them not to look at it.’ And you know what? That ain’t gonna happen. I mean, that’s not gonna happen. So the consequences are we’re gonna have to educate better and try to do a better job.”

Then Izzo went into talking more about Marcus Smart and how he feels bad for guys like him getting ripped 24/7:

“I feel bad for the players. I don’t feel bad for me, I get paid money to take your stuff, their stuff, my wife’s stuff, anybody else’s stuff. But they don’t. And it’s, just seeing it, man, like I said, I do, I spent time with Marcus Smart. I read the stuff. I normally don’t go back and read it, I read the stuff. When they interviewed him two weeks ago, he said it’s all getting to him. So I’m not gonna go into that drama, I’m just gonna get my commercial in. But don’t think it’s Tom Izzo. It’s about Gary Harris, it’s about Marcus Smart, it’s about these different guys that never now can never get away from it. Twenty-four seven, 365.”
On if fans have the right to talk to players like the way we saw at Texas Tech:

“I don’t think they have that right. I just think that has gone on since we were in the Coliseum. I think those same things go on at all arenas, I really do. Do they have the right to? No, they can overstep their bounds. Are they overstepping them more now because freedom of speech has turned into not the way I think it was written? Each year I think more happens and then when you tweet it, you feel like you can say it. I think you get a little bit more courage.”

“I wish I knew the whole thing, but I will guarantee you this, I bet last year Marcus Smart was walking away from that. It is all the pressure, some his own, some from other people. I bet he could have walked away from the same incident last year. I think it is the pressure that these kids are under.”

“I keep saying it, and nobody will believe it, but this is all about them.”

Here are some things Izzo brought up on the aspect of kids using the social media and the effect it’s having on them:

 “Wait til it happens to you. Wait til it’s your son, wait til it’s your daughter. It won’t be as funny. And most people aren’t in the position. The other reason it doesn’t affect everybody. Most people aren’t in the position that their status is so that everybody in the community knows about it.
“I think you should be like Greeny and say, take your kids of it. Why do they read it? Hell, we made it so it’s intravenous now. They can’t breathe without having a damn phone.”

“A couple weeks ago, I told my whole team “Give me two months. Give me two months,” I said it me personally. Can I demand that they stay off the phones? A couple of programs have done it. Would I be successful? Probably not, probably not. But you can only demand so many things. What you got to do is educate them why it would benefit them, and I think guys are seeing things a little differently now. That phone has become like a drug. We should phone test them, it’s become a drug, it really has. And I feel bad, and I feel bad for my own kids.

“This number, blows me away. This 18 to 21, you go from a boy to a man because you have a birthday. I don’t want to get into all the philosophical things, but who are we kidding? I guarantee you, I was in my late 20s before I even thought of becoming a man.”

“And I just feel sorry for these guys. I’m the hardest on them, and I’ll tell anybody in this room I’m as hard on them as anybody out there. And I love those guys to death, and I mean even players from other teams. I watched that Marcus Smart thing, and I felt bad for him. Because I happen to know him a little bit and I happen to know the kind of guy he is. There’s a thing these kids go through whether it is the NBA or whether it be the recruiting process.”

Izzo’s final remarks on the subject:

“I think kids, I think there’s just a higher frustration level because of the pressure these kids are under. That’s what I think and that’s why I went on my, I guess, soap box. I’m sure around the country there will be half the coaches laughing an half … you know what? I really don’t care anymore because I’m watching it, I’ve had guys in my office in tears. Grown men, according to birthdates.”
“Maybe this is my way of saying somebody better start looking out for what it’s doing to the kids.”
“They’re still 18. The pros that are doing it, they’re still 19, 20 years old. Unless you are lot better men than I was, and you are a lot more mature than I was, it would affect you. As everything else we do, we look at the good things it does for us and we don’t look at the consequences. Seventy-two guys come out early and 30 of them make and we talk about the five that are superstars and we forget about the ones that have gone by the wayside. That’s kind of what we’re doing with this. And I’ll text what I got to text, I’ll recruit how I got to recruit. I’m not gonna condone something that I’m hearing other coaches now that Tweet their little tail off complaining about people that are tweeting about their own kids and putting too much pressure on them. Then why do it?”