Michigan coach John Beilein has a simple message to all of college basketball's cheaters: 'Get the heck out of the game'
The college basketball trial in New York was a topic of conversation at Big Ten media day
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Thursday's conversations at Big Ten media day were mostly centered on basketball -- among them discussions about Michigan State being picked to repeat as league champs despite losing two lottery picks, about Carsen Edwards going from a sub-100 prospect to arguably the best guard in the country, about Minnesota having the roster necessary for a nice bounce-back season, so and so forth.
Yes, Big Ten media day was mostly about Big Ten basketball.
But there was still a federal trial rooted in corruption within the sport taking place 800 miles east at literally the same time the conference's 14 coaches were taking questions from various media members. So it was always going to come up. And, I thought, Michigan's John Beilein had the most direct message for the men who are either already engulfed in scandal or soon will be.
"If you're not going to follow these rules, get the heck out of the game," Beilein said during an interview I conducted with him for CBS Sports HQ inside the Lambert B Room here at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare. "We'll survive."
"If you're not going to follow these rules, get the heck out of the game." Michigan coach John Beilein
This straight-forward request for rule-breakers would be met with a roll of the eyes if delivered by most. Glass houses and all that. But it's different coming from Beilein because he's universally respected and regarded as a by-the-book coach. For evidence, consider that, and the leading vote-getter, by a significant margin, was Beilein. In other words, he has credibility on the topic because his peers do not question his tactics even though he's recruited well enough over the years to make eight of the past 10 NCAA Tournaments and coach in two of the past six national championship games.
"You don't have to [cheat] to win," Beilein said. "I think at some of the programs that have been able to be successful [without cheating], like a Michigan, you never even thought of [doing] these things. You just try to get the right kids and grow through them."
Another coach with thoughts on the subject was Tom Izzo.
The Hall of Famer, whose Spartans are the pick to repeat as Big Ten champions, isn't having to face the same questions Kansas' Bill Self and Arizona's Sean Miller are facing because nobody Izzo has coached has been accused, under oath, of having a family member, guardian or friend accept money in violation of NCAA rules. But Michigan State did come up in the opening statements of the trial -- specifically when Christian Dawkins' attorney, Steve Haney, said "Michigan State was one of the only schools that was not going to pay Brian Bowen to go there."
"He was from Saginaw, and we had his cousin, Jason Richardson, [at Michigan State from 1999 to 2001]," Izzo said. "But it was just one of those things."
Asked if it makes him proud for people to know he and his staff weren't willing to do a deal, Izzo responded: "I feel good about it. But I don't think I should be canonized for it because that's what we're supposed to do."
Izzo closed by expanding on the topic.
"Let's face it. You're out on the road. I'm out on the road. There are problems in college basketball," he said. "And some of it is people having to find different ways to get to places. But hopefully we can clean it up. Hopefully we find the right solution."
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