Tag:Matt Norlander
Posted on: October 10, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 6:24 pm

Izzo donates $1 million to Michigan St. athletics

By Matt Norlander, cross-posted from Eye on College Basketball

Spartans fans probably thought the best gift coach Izzo could have given to the program -- outside of all those Final Fours and a national title -- was passing up the Cleveland Cavs job in 2010.

But Izzo has done them better, in a very different, very tangible way. He and his wife have donated a jaw-dropping $1 million to the university. This kind of gift is commonplace amongst lofty boosters who like to show their roll without hesitation. But a coach? Michigan State is calling the donation unlike any of its kind from a head coach to an athletics department, perhaps in American collegiate sports history. He has essentially given the university a huge chunk of his paycheck back.

My question: Is this tax deductible?

“We’ve been blessed to be a part of the Michigan State family for nearly 30 years,” Izzo said in a statement. “Jud Heathcote taught me long ago that the only good deal was one that benefits both parties, and that perfectly describes my relationship with Michigan State University. My wife Lupe and I, along with our children Raquel and Steven, have dedicated our lives to this University, because we believe in intercollegiate athletics and the positive role it plays in so many lives. The Spartans students are our passion, our life’s work. We’ve raised a family here and become entrenched in the mission of the University. And in return, we’ve received so much more than we’ve given. With these blessings, we felt it was time to make a financial contribution.

The 56-year-old Izzo (seen above with Racquel, left, Lupe, and Sparty during 2010's Midnight Madness), has a 383-161 record at Michigan State and has won six Big Ten championships, which matches his six Final Fours. Yet basketball isn't receiving the lion's share of this unique act of coaching charity. Izzo's donating a big portion -- the largest portion -- of the money to football.

“Supporting the football team was an easy decision," Izzo said. "Coach Dantonio is a man of character, building a championship program. But what makes football special is that it truly benefits everyone across the university. Spearheaded by football’s success, there is great momentum throughout all programs.”

With such a big sum given, there's room to spread the wealth to every athletic program at the university, plus scholarships endowments will be included. Even the marching band will feel some cheddar pushed into their back pockets.

“By making a financial contribution to the football program, the Izzo family is not only benefitting all 25 sports, but the entire university," AD Mark Hollis said. "Football games are more than just athletic competition, they are a gathering place for the University community. And while each sport uses football and its success as a recruiting tool, the different colleges across our great campus use football games to enhance their own missions within the framework of Team MSU."

How about this completely outsider, uninformed hypothesis, though: I wonder if Izzo's actions signal some sort of odd first step toward him leaving the program. I'm not saying it's happening at the end of this year, or the next, but what moves a man to do something like this if he isn't looking back at his time and beginning to reflect on that? Izzo's become MSU basketball, and sure he's only 56, but is it possible he's thinking about putting his final fingerprints on the school as an active coach in the next five years?

I'd love to be wrong, because college basketball needs coaches like Tom Izzo to stick around for as long as they bring his breed of energy and enthusiasm to the sport.

Unbelievable Photo: AP

Posted on: September 22, 2011 1:22 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 1:45 pm

CBSSports.com Joint Future Power Rankings

Posted by Matt Norlander and Chip Patterson

Conference realignment has temporarily slowed down, at least for the time being. With Texas A&M leaving the Big 12, and Syracuse making a move to the ACC with Pittsburgh, it seems as though we have seen most of the moves for 2011. But the threat of a complete shift in the college landscape got us at CBSSports.com thinking: "How will this all look in 2014?"

We selected that end date because that is when the current agreements between the BCS and the AQ conferences expires. At that point, each conference will be re-evaluated to determine their status as an automatic qualifier for the Bowl Championship Series.

In a joint meeting of the minds between the college football and college basketball writers and bloggers, we mapped what we believe to be the most likely landscape for the six major conferences in 2014 for both sports. For some explanations on how the moves have/might come to be you can check out these realignment columns from Brett McMurphy and Jeff Goodman.

The 16-team superconferences is not something we envision happening before 2014. With the commitment from Big East and Big 12 schools to sticking together along with the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences sitting perfectly content with their current membership, it is unlikely there will be enough shuffling in the next two years for two whole conferences to completely dissolve from the BCS picture.

With the future conference rosters set, Matt Norlander and I took on the task of ranking the six leagues in our future conference power rankings. You can read his take on the future of the basketball conferences at the Eye on College Basketball, while I break down the football side at the Eye on College Football.

Our rankings, as expected, don't exactly line up. But we decided to make our judgements for the joint future conference power rankings based on a combination of football and basketball dominance, fan base, and conference stability.

It should come as no surprise then, that No. 1 on our joint power rankings is the Big Ten. With some of the most storied football programs in the game and four top-tier basketball programs, the conference is a leader in both major revenue sports. The conference was the first to pioneer their own television network, and will begin raking the revenue from their first football conference championship in 2012. Conference commissioner Jim Delany has stressed that the league will look for "quality not quantity" when it comes to expansion, and that's because - at least in our opinion - they are leading the way in college athletics.

Based on the projected movements, here are the CBSSports.com Future Conference Power Rankings

1. BIG TEN (FOOTBALL RANK: 2, BASKETBALL RANK: 2) - One of our criteria for the joint power rankings was stability, and it is hard to get more stable than the oldest Division I conference. From a football perspective they already had a history of greatness on their side, and then in their most recent expansion boosted their stats even more with the addition of Nebraska. By 2014 Ohio State and Michigan will be out from the cloud of uncertainty in football, joining the Cornhuskers, Michigan State, and Wisconsin to lead the Big Ten elite.

Norlander referred to Indiana as a "sleeping giant" in basketball and I think he's absolutely correct. The Big Ten fields the second-most NCAA tournament bids in this future conference landscape, only trailing the ACC. Tom Izzo hasn't discussed retirement anytime soon, and the Spartans will lead the way on the court while a slew of football powers will try to end the SEC's streak of national championships. The reason Delany is not stressed about quantity is because this conference does have the most quality. -- Chip Patterson

2. SEC (FOOTBALL RANK: 1, BASKETBALL RANK: 6) - You see the power that football has in our overall conference rankings evidenced right here. Because for as amazing as the Southeastern Conference is on the field, it’s downright dour on the maple. No matter, the league is arguably the most stable of any conference because it’s so comfortable with its identity. Winning half a hundred football titles will do that. The SEC will continue to dictate the tempo and story of college football so long as its storied programs keep outrunning the rest of the country with that Es Eee Cee Speed.

  Kentucky can carry the load in hoops, and all will be well.  – Matt Norlander

3. ACC (FOOTBALL RANK: 5, BASKETBALL RANK: 1) - From a football perspective, the ACC is adding three schools that combine for only three Top 25 finishes in the last decade. Additionally Virginia Tech's projected exit takes away four of the last seven conference championships. But in hoops? The expansion gives them 9 of the last 13 national champions and arguably five of the top programs in the nation. The increase in membership to 14 schools also adds stability to the conference, should there eventually be a shift to the 16 team superconference model. Losing Virginia Tech is a huge blow to the conference's football strength, but that fall-out is overshadowed by the new dominance in basketball. The combination puts them in the middle of the road for both sports, but opposite ends of the spectrum in each. -- CP

4. PAC-12 (FOOTBALL RANK: 3, BASKETBALL RANK: 4) - The Pac-12 is poised to eventually climb higher on this list thanks to its leadership and foresight into how to expand its brand and make loads of billions in the next decade. For now, the conference falls fourth in our overall rankings because its across-the-board quality in football and basketball, while solid, lacks the true dominance the SEC has in football, the ACC in basketball, and the utter balance the Big Ten owns in both.

  But the league is secure. That we know. And no matter what happens down the road with conference tectonic-plate shifting, the West Coast will always need and demand representation. The Pac-12 will never fold. It may change names, but the conference will exist so long as we’re turning on the lights and rolling the ball out there.  -- MN

5. BIG 12 (FOOTBALL RANK: 3, BASKETBALL RANK: 5) - The stability of this conference relies on Texas and Oklahoma. As the last several weeks have shown us, that is not a very comforting situation for the rest of the conference. But Longhorn Network be damned, this conference survived the Realignment Scare of 2011. With schools reportedly content with a 10-team football roster, BYU will bring some intrigue with their first opportunity in a BCS conference. The exit of Texas A&M does cause the conference to lose some of the traditional rivalries college football fans have come to know and love, but the Cougars will have a chance to carve their niche in the conference's history. Kansas is the cornerstone of Big 12 basketball, but it has been hard for any other teams to remain dominant over an extended period of time. Texas and Oklahoma will have to play nice with the new leadership in the conference office for this conference to survive past 2014. -- CP

6. BIG EAST (FOOTBALL RANK: 6, BASKETBALL RANK: 3) - Just as the SEC hangs near the top of our power rankings because of football, the Big East lives down below because its football side is not only dismal, it’s on the verge of barely qualifying as a major-conference worthy. Plenty would argue that’s already the case. And with Syracuse and Pitt now gone, in addition to the fact we’re envisioning UConn bolting for the ACC any time now, the basketball product takes a tremendous hit.

While the Big 12 and the Big East really seemed to wobble for a week or so there, the possibility of both leagues collapsing into each other becoming more likely until the Pac-12 stopped that, we rank the Big East lower than the Big 12 based off football alone. Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman talked about with me on the podcast Wednesday, and we discussed when the Big East will eventually come to accept that it’s not a football league, it’s never been a football league, and it’s never going to be one. And no matter how good your basketball schools are, if you can’t even look worthwhile compared to the rest of the big boys, then you probably shouldn’t even be at the table.  -- MN

(Photo Credits: US Presswire) 
Posted on: September 19, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 1:22 pm

PODCAST: Brett McMurphy talks realignment

Posted by Tom Fornelli

With the conference realignment dominoes beginning to fall all over the country thanks to the announcement that Pitt and Syracuse are leaving the Big East for the ACC over the weekend, there are a lot of questions to be answered about what the college sports landscape will look like when the dust finally settles.

Thankfully CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy and Matt Norlander sit down to discuss what this all means for the Big East and the ACC, and also talk about the possible moves by the Pac-12 and SEC. Listen below, download the mp3, or popout the player for continued browsing.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com