Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo is approaching the Big Ten record for overall wins by a league coach with at least 10 years in the conference.
Izzo has a career record of 661-263 (.715) and needs two more wins to become the all-time leader.
The man he will pass is former Indiana coach Bob Knight, who won 662 games in 29 years in Bloomington (662-240, .734).
Izzo has never been short on praise for Knight, and the respect runs both ways. The Michigan State head coach has long been a family friend of the Knights.
“It’s humbling just being in the same thoughts as Bobby Knight, because that’s one of the guys I idolized when I got to Michigan State,” Izzo recently told MSU radio voice Will Tieman.
“It’s the most wins at a Big Ten school. That means you stayed in a place a long time. I think the number of games have gone up a little bit, so maybe it’s not as authentic as it looks, but to be in that same frame it is really exciting for me and humbling at the same time.”
Izzo’s first ever league game as a Big Ten head coach came on Jan. 4 1996 against Knight’s Hoosiers
And it also became his first conference win, a 65-60 win over IU at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
“We played Indiana in my first Big Ten game, and we weren’t very good at the time and they were, and we beat ’em,” Izzo recalled. “My first Big Ten win was against Bobby Knight and Indiana, and it was a home game.”
That win over Indiana also played a role in spawning the raucous MSU student section we’ve come to know today.
“I remember coming in and telling (former MSU AD) Mark Hollis, ‘if there’s ever 4,000 of those red sweaters in the stands again I’m going to go off,'” Izzo said. “And that’s when we started changing the Izzone and making it bigger. So Bobby Knight has had a big impact in my life.”
Knight is also the all-time leader for wins in Big Ten Conference games with 353. Izzo is second at 320.
Surpassing Knight has proven to be a difficult task for Izzo and his 2021-22 Spartans. They’ve lost five of their last six games.
Their only win in that span came on Feb. 12 against Indiana.
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