Fans launch Izzo support campaign


Despite a rally last week at Breslin Center, Spartans fans are not done showing support for MSU men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo.

Late last week, the website was put up as a place at which fans can gather and post brief messages about how much they care about the MSU coach.

Quickly becoming more than just a website, the “We Love Izzo” campaign is allowing the MSU community to reenforce its affection toward Izzo as he continues to mull over a possible departure from the university to coach the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

Izzo-Cavs timeline

Two weeks ago:
MSU official says men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo declines to pursue Chicago Bulls head coaching job.

June 7:
The News-Herald (OH) reports the Cleveland Cavaliers offer Izzo a head coaching contract.

MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis said the Cavs have interest, but no contract offered.

June 8:
Izzo informally offered a five-year contract with the Cavs potentially worth $30 million, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Izzo holds meeting with men’s basketball team to discuss the situation and says he is unsure what he will decide, according to The Associated Press.

June 10:
Izzo travels to Cleveland to meet with Cavaliers team officials.

Rally held at Breslin Center to show Izzo support. Izzo returns to Lansing at 11:15 p.m. and tells reporters, “I did what I had to do.”

June 11:

Izzo meets with players, reportedly to size Big Ten Championship rings.

Izzo silent most of the weekend. Tells AP he is “still gathering.”

Source: Mark Hollis, various news reports

Kat Petersen / The State News

More than 750 yard signs have been placed throughout Lansing and East Lansing with the help of more than 400 volunteers, said Jason Keusch, executive chef at Troppo, 101 S. Washington Square, in Lansing, and an organizer of the “We Love Izzo” campaign.

“We’re really lucky we got lots of help,” he said. “Everyone was worrying and complaining about (Izzo) needing to know how much MSU loves him. The right thing to do is show him we love him.”

In addition to the yard signs, all the digital signs around East Lansing on Monday will show the “We Love Izzo” logo. Also, mobile billboards will drive throughout Lansing and East Lansing, and banners will be placed throughout the towns, Keusch said.

He also said the Michael Patrick Shiels’ “The Big Show” on WJIM AM 1240 is scheduled to be entirely dedicated to the “We Love Izzo” campaign.

The “We Love Izzo” website domain was purchased last week by Cam Gnass, owner of Lansing-based advertising firm Traction, 617 E. Michigan Ave., to show Izzo the extent of the MSU community’s support.

“I was sick of everyone saying why he shouldn’t take the job,” he said. “Is that really the message we should be sending him? This is just to let him know we love him and (we’re) letting him make his own decision.”

Gnass said the website has received more than 1,500 messages as of Sunday afternoon, and is receiving three or four new messages per minute.

Although university officials likely have exhausted their efforts to show Izzo support, fans of the coach can continue to shower him with love and care, said Scott Westerman, associate vice president and executive director of the MSU Alumni Association, who is not officially involved with the campaign.

Westerman said university administrators have no official involvement with the campaign, although they will do as much as they can to help out.

“The thing that is so great about it is it’s totally grass-roots,” he said. “It’s fantastic that the community is showing how much they care.”

Last week, Westerman used Twitter to generate supportive notes from fans. He has received more than 500 tweets and 120 e-mails from supporters, all of which will be placed on Izzo’s desk Monday.

“There is not one that is from a typical sports fan,” Westerman said. “They all say, ‘Do what’s best for your family,’ or ‘You can make a bigger difference at MSU than in the NBA.’ No one is saying, ‘Go for the money.’ That tells me MSU is much more classy than you would expect from your average college.”
The basic nature of the project helps to note the honesty behind the messages, Gnass said.

“It’s so unmanufactured, so organic,” he said. “It’s the most simplistic way, but that’s the best way.”
Students are quick to become involved in the project, communication senior Alexandra Nicola said. Nicola has been volunteering with the campaign since Saturday.

“Izzo is very important to me and the community,” she said. “He is somebody we all can look up to.”

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