If Tom Izzo or Mark Dantonio bolted, how would Michigan State respond?
What would happen if Tom Izzo or Mark Dantonio suddenly left Michigan State, like John Beilein did Michigan on Monday?
Bill Beekman has an idea, but not necessarily a list of replacement candidates.
“We don’t have sort of anything written down,” said Beekman, who spent his 52nd birthday Tuesday at the Big Ten athletic directors meeting in Rosemont, Illinois. “But I think from my perspective, you’re always sort of thinking about the proverbial what if a key person sort of walked out of their office and got hit by the proverbial bus or whatever – what’s your Plan B?”
Beekman, who is approaching the one-year anniversary of his hiring as MSU’s permanent athletic director, has yet to make a coaching move — hiring or firing — since being promoted on July 16, 2018, after taking over as interim athletic director a little more than five months earlier. He did, however, say he signed off on Dantonio’s restructuring of the Spartans’ football coaching staff this winter.
It is no secret though that both Izzo, who is 64 and preparing for his 25th season as MSU’s basketball coach, and Dantonio, about to enter his 13th season as football coach and is 63 years old, are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning.
“I mean, I hope Tom lasts longer than I do. But you never know,” Beekman said. “You never know what personal circumstances bring, or health issues or what have you, so I think you’re always in the back of your mind — if you’re a responsible AD — thinking about what would a Plan B, C, D be.”
Beekman said Beilein’s decision to leave the Wolverines for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers was “a loss” for the Big Ten and said Izzo had a “great relationship” with his departing peer. The move surprised Beekman, he added, but he also believes U-M athletic director Warde Manuel is equipped to handle the coaching search.
“You sort of always are thinking about these kind of things, and you hope that you can keep the good people forever,” Beekman said. “I’m sure (Manuel) would like to have kept John forever, but I’m sure he’s got a list of folks. And I’m sure he’s working his list.”
Booze at games?
Rutgers, Illinois and Indiana all announced this year that they plan to sell beer and alcohol at football games. That makes seven of the 14 Big Ten schools to do so.
MSU is not planning to do that, and Beekman said it's partly because state law prohibits alcohol sales at Spartan Stadium and Michigan Stadium unless it is being used for professional soccer or hockey games. MSU sells beer and alcohol to donors in its suites, but it can do so because that tower on the west side of the stadium is not physically attached to Spartan Stadium.
“So at this point, it’s against state law to do it. I don’t see us advocating for a change in that,” Beekman said. “We do sell it in the suites and to a limited number of folks. I think more and more of the conference is going there. It’s becoming more common. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen in some venue at some point. I’m not sure our starting point would be football.”
More to CFP?
MSU in 2015 and Ohio State in 2014 and 2016 are the only Big Ten programs to make the College Football Playoff in its five-year history.
Count Beekman as one of the Power 5 conference athletic directors who thinks more teams are needed.
“My personal opinion is that expansion is probably inevitable. And I think at some level, that’s a good thing,” Beekman said. “I think there are very real concerns about how long you make the schedule and how many games you play, and there are concerns about spreading that too much over two semesters.
“At the same time, it’s such a small number of teams. And so if you got two teams playing one extra game, it’s not 300 or even 50 or 60 – it’s two teams paying one extra game. I think in the greater scheme of things, I think its probably good for the game and the teams involved if you move it from four to eight.”
Free Press reporter Orion Sang contributed to this report. Contact Chris Solari at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.