Michigan State fans don't want Tom Izzo to leave. That's why, 500 strong, those fans organized a hasty rally outside the Breslin Center on Thursday night. They came equipped with signs and chants and a whole mess of green Spartans T-shirts. Oh, and one other thing: Michigan State center Derrick Nix.
Despite a reported mandate from MSU officials telling players to avoid the rally altogether, Nix showed up, where he greeted fans and thanked them for their support. Nix also had his own plea for Coach Izzo, one student reporter Jackie Smith managed to grab in a quick Twitter snapshot. With a tear in his eye, Nix told the assembled fans he understood their pain:
"Nobody knows what (Izzo) is going to do, but I just want to thank all y'all," Nix told the crowd. "I'm emotional about all this. I don't want Coach Izzo to leave."
It's a moving moment. Tom Izzo means so much to his school, to Michigan State fans and, yes, to his players, more than any outsider can understand until you see communal spectacles like Thursday night's rally. Spartans basketball will live on long after Izzo goes, whether he goes today or in another 10 years. But for many of those fans, without Izzo, MSU hoops won't quite be the same.
(Hat tip: The Dagger)