In wake of NCAA Tournament, Izzo remembers short-lived coaching gig at Tulsa
TULSA, Okla. — Tom Izzo wasn't always a Spartan.
The last time Izzo stepped foot in Tulsa, he was burnt out from his time at MSU under the wing of predecessor Jud Heathcote as a graduate assistant and took an assistant coaching job at the University of Tulsa.
Now that he's back in Tulsa, Izzo is reflecting on the past and how it got him back to MSU.
"It was awesome, man," Izzo said. "It really was the start for me. Three years as a GA at Michigan State, kind of running out of money and (Heathcote) was probably running out of patience with me."
Izzo was hired by then-head coach J.D. Barnett as the Hurricanes' recruiting coordinator. Before accepting the job with Tulsa, Izzo nearly took a coaching job at Michigan Tech University. But Izzo's tenure in Tulsa was short-lived — Seven weeks to be exact.
"I almost took a Division II job at Michigan Tech, and all of a sudden I got the call from Kevin O'Neill who had been here, left for Arizona, came down and interviewed with J.D., and it was a short seven weeks," Izzo said. "It probably, as I look back, wasn't fair to him. I will tell you that I got a chance to talk to him yesterday. I hunted his number down from Tubby Smith and got a chance to talk to J.D. and probably should owe him a little more than I
Izzo returned to East Lansing after Heathcote offered him a position as an assistant coach. Although Izzo's time under Barnett was merely a pitstop, it's was an experience Izzo said he will always remember because of Barnett's back-breaking work ethic.
"I enjoyed Tulsa," Izzo said. "I will tell you this, that J.D. Barnett was a drill sergeant. He was a hard worker. So I didn't see a lot of Tulsa. I'd go in early with my little shirt and tie on in the middle of May, 100 degrees down here and I left the office late, and I didn't see a lot of the city. But I loved my experience here."
But when the opportunity came to rejoin the Spartans, Izzo said he knew it was a chance he couldn't pass up.
"Seven weeks later Mike Deane left Michigan State," Izzo said. "I went back, and as they say, the rest is history."