DETROIT -- The Obama administration asked Tom Izzo, coach of the Michigan State Spartans, to step down after his team suffered a thorough drubbing at the hands of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the NCAA championship game. Industry sources had said the White House planned very tough medicine, though few thought it would be a lethal cocktail of Tanqueray and three heaping jiggers of Oxycondin.
"The President had indicated he was running out of patience," said David Axelrod, Obama's senior advisor. "Yes, the team overachieved, beating two number one seeds, but there's no debating the result - an embarrassing, end-to-end bloodbath in front of 60,000 home town fans - many of whom will now have neither a team nor a job to wake up to in the morning. It's time for new ideas and new leadership."
During Izzo's tenure, Michigan State began a streak of twelve straight NCAA tournament appearances, which is the 5th longest current streak among Division I teams. During that run only Mike Krzyzewski (29) has more NCAA tournament wins than Izzo (26). But despite his success, it was clear Izzo had to go. The imploding automobile industry has shaken Detroit to its core. The streets just outside Ford Field are lined with shuttered buildings and a smattering of all night liquor stores. The Spartans were one of the few positives in a city - indeed, an entire state - that has assumed the fetal position.
"On Monday, shortly after the game, I received a call from several administration officials who requested that I step aside," said Izzo. "And so I have. What would I have done differently if I had to do it all over? First, I'd a said something last year when those idiots running GM were rolling out these big honkin ' pickups and SUVs with gas at $4. If your team's built for speed you don't run a lot of half court sets - just common sense. And don't get me started on how I would have handled the UAW negotiations."
While Axelrod acknowledges that a Spartan win would have done little to rekindle the city's economy or create jobs, the administration felt it needed to act. The President will give Michigan State's athletic director 60 days to prove they can run a viable program.
"We feel this is the best way forward," said Axelrod. "I know it's a controversial decision, but the President has good instincts on these things. I shouldn't have to remind you that he did pick the Tar Heels to win the tournament."
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