Izzo and Spartans deserve better than Dakich
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Izzo and Spartans deserve better than Dakich

ESPN broadcaster could learn from Bill Walton's work for the network

Photo: Dan Dakich

By Tom Shanahan

ESPN basketball analyst Dan Dakich lowered himself to retired Auburn football coach Pat Dye’s pompous level last week while he worked Michigan’s win over Michigan State in Ann Arbor. But that’s not all.
Dakich stooped lower with Twitter comments posted prior to working Tuesday night’s Ohio State-Michigan State game the Spartans won before the Izzone student section in East Lansing. I’ll let Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who wants an apology from Dakich, speak in his own words later in this story.
The Dakich pettiness began with Dye-like words in the Michigan State-Michigan broadcast. Dye, you’ll recall, said a couple years ago that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wasn’t qualified to be named to the College Football Playoff committee because she never had “her hand in the dirt.”
Dakich’s snobbish comment criticized officials for assessing Wolverines junior D.J. Wilson a technical foul for “woofing” in the face of the Michigan State player he had dunked on. Those kind of taunts start fights, but Dakich complained on air such rules were written by “people who never played the game.”
No, Dan, they were written by people broader-minded than you that understand trickle-down poor sportsmanship. They were written by people that aren’t in the bubble of big-time college basketball.
The bigger picture they consider is kids at the high school and youth levels copying what they see on TV. Pro athletes and college athletes that showboat flash a green light to unformed kids to imitate immature behavior. 
That presents a challenge to high school and youth coaches to explain such behavior is unacceptable. Every Dakich-like comment promoting bad behavior from a TV broadcaster makes the job that much more difficult. Those coaches work harder for less money (if any at all for some) than you, Dan.
You’d know that, Dan, if you got outside your bubble. Didn’t you see Michigan Coach John Beilein yelling at Wilson nose-to-nose after the technical? Beilein knows. 
That brings us to Dakich’s cheap-shot Twitter posts that belittled Michigan State fans and students and favored Michigan. They seemed odd comments coming from a former Indiana player until you learn Dakich’s son is on Michigan’s basketball team as a redshirt. Then they sound like those of a Little League parent.
As I wrote earlier, I’ll let Izzo’s words speak. Izzo’s quotes were posted on msuspartans.com following the Ohio State victory. Izzo, who doesn’t use Twitter, started out his post-game comments with how he was confused why students in the Izzone section chanted, “We hate Dakich.”
“Before I go into anything, I have to tell you that I do a lot of work to try to somewhat control the Izzone. If there’s some things not being said, I email them and talk to them, and catch hell both ways – if too much is being said, if not enough is being said. But, I have to be honest with you. I was kind of getting upset at the chants of Dakich…until I got in the locker room. I asked, ‘What was that all about?’ And somebody read me his tweets ... The social media. 
“If I would have known that before the game, I would have embarrassed myself almost as much as he embarrassed himself and I would have led the chants. Because calling us whiners and that is kind of unprofessional. Classy broadcasters like George Blaha and everybody else wouldn’t have even thought to do something like that on TV. But, saying our students couldn’t get in there? And he’s doing games for Michigan when his son is there? That is a disappointment and that is ridiculous. 
“I think it’s funny because I have no respect for him for that and I am going to publicly say that. You can tweet it, you can read it, you can do whatever you want with it. But Twitter got him in trouble and he earned it. I am surprised that ESPN would let someone say something like that, that works for them. That’s off my chest now, another one for Twitter.
“Danny owes our fans and our students an apology. I probably won’t get it. But you know, I always got along with Dan, but as you know, it seems like this year a lot of people have been mad at me. But, I would have loved to get in that Izzone and join those chants. If I was on Twitter…Thank God I’m not, thank God some of my friends are. So, that was the commercial today and now we will get back to the game.”
Dakich is insightful when he sticks to X’s and O’s, but he can learn a thing or two from Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton, a fellow ESPN broadcaster. I remember watching Walton work Arizona games when his son Luke played for the Wildcats.
Walton not only didn’t favor Arizona at the opponent’s expense, he was harder on Luke than anyone else.
“Come on, Walton! You should have had that ball.”
Maybe the difference has something to do with their respective college coaches. Walton learned at the knee of the gentlemanly John Wooden and Dakich from the often petulant Bobby Knight.
Can we get Walton to replace Dakich on future Michigan State ESPN broadcasts? Izzo and the Spartans deserve mature commentary.

Follow Tom Shanahan of FanRagSports.com on Twitter @shanny4055.


Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom spent the bulk of his career in San DIego writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has covered NCAA Tournaments, Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series in a career that included writing for Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Hall of Champions and Chargers.com. He contributes to the Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News & Observer, MLB.com, Rivals.com and the National Football Foundation's Football Matters. He won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003. USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter presented its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. It explains Duffy Daugherty's pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications

David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer: "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."