ROSEMONT, Ill. – Tom Izzo already had an affection for Iowa coach Fran McCaffery — "I have great respect for anyone who will throw chairs and get mad at officials," Izzo joked last week — but it's more than that now.
The news is good these days for the McCaffery family, with no signs of cancer in the body of 14-year-old Patrick. On Thursday at Big Ten basketball media day, McCaffery said his son is doing well, months after having a thyroid tumor removed as the NCAA tournament began.
For Izzo, the episode has helped "bring perspective to a world that is sometimes Disneyland."
"There's a guilt level that coaches feel ... none of us give our families what they deserve," Izzo said. "We really don't. If I recruited a kid and told him I'm gonna treat him like my son, if he really knew he wouldn't come. Because I don't get to spend as much time with my son as I do my team. And I'm not proud of that. I don't feel great about that. It's just the reality of my job."
The McCaffery situation has "helped me," Izzo said.
"Hopefully I'll deal with things a little bit better," he said. "Never to the point where I'll feel like my son and daughter got what they deserve, but give them a little more than maybe I give."
When the news broke last season, Izzo got on the phone. In fact, Margaret McCaffery told the Des Moines Register that Izzo was the first to call. Izzo said he and McCaffery talked "more than a little" during that time, with both coaches preparing for the postseason.
"When you haven't been through it yourself, you don't get to say, 'I know what you're going through,' " Izzo said. "That's a lie. That's a lie. Nobody can appreciate what he's going through.
"But I thought him and his wife were awesome. And I thought the way he handled it and the perspective he tried to give it and still doing his job, he taught me something."