Michigan State coach Tom Izzo unloaded on ESPN’s Dan Dakich after the Spartans’ victory over Ohio State on Tuesday night. MSU students chanted “we hate Dakich” on the front end of OSU one-and-one opportunities throughout the game. Izzo, initially irritated by the chanting, changed his tune after finding out what inspired them.
Dakich’s tweets about MSU being populated by a bunch of whiners who couldn’t get into Michigan, which he sent after last week’s game between the in-state rivals.
Dakich deleted several of them after Tuesday night’s game, but here’s one that remains.
Dakich’s son, Andrew, is a reserve guard for the Wolverines on a redshirt season.
“If I would have known that before the game, I would have embarrassed myself almost as much as he embarrassed himself, and I would have led the chants,” Izzo said, his voice slightly cracking. “Because calling us whiners and that is kind of unprofessional. Classy broadcasters, like George Blaha and everybody else, wouldn’t have even thought to do something like that on TV. But saying our students couldn’t get in there? And he’s doing games for Michigan when his son is there? That is a disappointment, and that is ridiculous.
And I think it’s funny because I got no respect for him for that. And I am going to publicly say it – you can tweet it, you can read it, you can do whatever you want with it – but Twitter got him in trouble, and he earned it. I am surprised ESPN would let somebody say something like that, that works for them.”
Look, some of what Dakich said has merit. Every fanbase has a whiny element and East Lansing is full of students who couldn’t hack it in Ann Arbor. Michigan’s admission standards are more stringent than Michigan State’s. No argument there.
At the same time, it’s hard not to enjoy Izzo clapping back because Dakich is constantly cruising for a bruising with his opinions. If he had a bigger platform, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’d be excoriated in the same way Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless are on a daily basis. He puts some bricks up in the content game. From his insistence that LeBron James doesn’t work hard to his inability to realize he’s a member of the media while ripping the media, there’s plenty to dislike.
But you know what? He’s mostly a harmless irritant, more a good shock jock than a bad dude. Izzo was right to be annoyed but demanding an apology and questioning ESPN’s employment of Dakich is an overreaction. It’s not as if Spartans are hearing the “couldn’t get into Michigan” jab for the first time.
If anything, Dakich’s willingness to mix it up with fans made for a more enjoyable game. College basketball is about fun and there’s no doubt that the heckling members of the Izzone had a great time getting on Dakich’s case. The added dose of venom only made the victory sweeter.
Dakich should apologize only if he feels inclined. In my mind, wearing that disrespect on national television was punishment enough.