DES MOINES -- Tom Izzo’s intense berating of freshman Aaron Henry led to the usual social media back-and-forth about a college coach’s rights and role.
One view: Izzo crossed the line of decorum even in a sport where coaching screaming is the norm. He treated an unpaid player who is helping him and his sport make millions of dollars worse than he has any right to. (I agree.)
The opposing view: Izzo is a great coach who is beloved by his players and has always been willing to berate them in public, even if he rarely has looked as wild-eyed and manic as he did on Thursday, and should be forgiven this lapse because of this context. (I agree.)
The self-serving view: ``My coach screamed at and even hit me and I’m better off for it.’’ (If you’re on social media supporting a powerful coach screaming at a freshman, maybe you’re not better off for it.)
For me, Izzo’s act wasn’t as revelatory as his reaction when asked about it. He tried to pretend he was bringing real-world tough love to a player by comparing himself to a newspaper editor who would hold accountable a lax employee.
Here’s where Izzo’s worldview springs a leak.
Izzo can survive screaming at a freshman because he is a powerful figure who can pull the player’s scholarship and maintain the support of millions of fans and his employers.
If he were a high school coach, he may have faced discipline, or at least been called in for a private rebuke.
If he were an NBA coach, the player may have punched him, or gotten him fired.
If he were a newspaper editor, his employee may have punched him, or thrown coffee in his face.
Izzo’s rant wasn’t the worst thing we’ve seen from a college coach. But let’s not pretend it would fly in the real world, where coaches aren’t kings.