Tom Izzo's name gets mentioned in a lot of rumors. In fact, people might casually mention Tom Izzo as a candidate for more coaching jobs than anyone else in the country.
Think about it: Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari are perennial NBA rumor candidates, but there's no way either coach is moving to a different college program anytime soon; no one would even think to suggest it. Brad Stevens was probably the most bandied-about college hoops candidate this offseason. But Izzo gets casual mentions for NBA gigs and random college coaching searches, even when -- as is always the case -- there's nothing to them. (I mean, really, Oregon? Really?)
But Izzo does have one thing Krzyzewski and a whole host of coaches don't have -- a rhetorical opening.
Talking to FanHouse earlier this week, Izzo said something that, were he anyone other than Tom Izzo, might make Michigan State fans just a teensy bit nervous:
"I've never been one to say never," Izzo said. "My good friend, Nick Saban ... they're still hitting him on [saying] 'I'll never be the Alabama coach.'"
Then, being Tom Izzo, he spelled out the rest of his eminently reasonable approach:
"I don't say that, but I'm happy where I'm at. It's a compliment if people think you're good enough to look at jobs, but I think my loyalty -- if people that are recruiting against me ever say he won't be there, there are very few people that haven't moved in 27 years.
"I've stayed there. Krzyzewski has a few [years] on me [at Duke] and so does [Syracuse's Jim] Boeheim. As an assistant or a head coach at Michigan State, I think I've served my time well and if that doesn't pay dividends and if that doesn't make people believe I'll be here, I can't help it."
Izzo isn't not saying "never" (I think there might be, like, a triple negative in there somewhere) because he has eyes on another job. He's just being honest. You never know what the future could bring, and it'd be foolish of the coach to step out and slam the door on his coaching mobility anytime in the near future. But that coaching mobility is more luxury than necessity. Izzo can stay at Michigan State as long as he wants.
So, in case that quote caused a minor twinge of concern to the MSU fans in the building, don't fret. You know this drill already.
(Oh, and for more on Izzo, check out Andy Katz's Daily Word from June 1.)