Some Clarification On The Izzo Story

To borrow from Brian Cook, “apologies to the locals: this is pure meta”. Disclaimer up front: I am not trying to be self-congratulatory or shower ourselves with praise. I want to put things out there so that we can all be on the same page.

Earlier today, we broke the news that Tom Izzo told his team he is going to take the Cavaliers’ coaching job. We have since been bandied about as ‘some blog’, had our credibility denounced, and been generally cast aside. There are numerous people who claim contrary to our reports. We stand by what we have reported. This post isn’t about the rumors in specific, but a look at what transpired today, and how it all fits into journalism, bloggery, and where we fit into all of this.

All of this began over the weekend, when we got a report that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is pushing very hard to get Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. I published this information Sunday afternoon along with other rumors that had been covered elsewhere. At this point, Izzo had been rumored but we had the first report that things really were picking up. Soon afterwards, Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski put out tweets that solidified our story that talks were picking up.

At 2:00 this afternoon, we came across the info that Tom Izzo had told his team that he would be taking the Cavs job. From there, Brendan worked to check with sources that he had – sources 1 and 2 that would be able to confirm. Around the same time, we got a report from a separate source (source 3) that said the same. This Source 3 later told us that Coach Izzo was waiting until his kids were done with school on Friday before making the announcement.

These emails came in between 2:00 and 2:08 PM. We confirmed with Sources 1 and 2 by 2:31 PM. We debated during the time between the inital report and our confirmation what we would as a site need to run the story. Once we had three sources, we ran the story at 2:46 PM. Fear The Sword tweeted about the rumors just after DP tweeted about our upcoming story. While we have not talked to John, we assume that our sources are the same based off of his post about the rumors at FTS that went up just after ours.

While reported from “anonymous sources”, we are well-aware of our sources and their relationships to the parties involved. We are reporting them anonymously for the same reasons that others in all areas of media report sources anonymously – because we don’t want to hurt our current relationship with them (or give up any sort of edge we may have in breaking news – we are, after all, a growing site that reports news, publishes opinion and analysis, and is not above attempting humor on occasion). There are hundreds of reports on ESPN, CNN, in the New York Times and Washington Post that are published every week from “anonymous” sources. That’s part of the issue, but certainly isn’t the crux of the issue here.

Once published, there was a nearly instantaneous proliferation of our story throughout the greater Twittersphere – from there, it made its way to message boards, other blogs, and anywhere else that electrons could take information. With the spread of the info came the speculation and the denigration. People called their sources at MSU, who denied the reports. Amidst the conflicting reports arose the standard “just a blog” argument that tends to pop up any time a blog or “new media” member breaks a story.

When it comes to looking at “blogs”, there is a certain stigma that many people have. When saying this, I don’t mean only the established main-stream media. Looking at the general population, many people still lump all blogs together and have a mindset about “blogs” one way or another. To many people there is no spectrum of blogs, no difference between KSK or EDSBS or SportsByBrooks or Deadspin or TBL or The800Level. They may be able to hear “” and know that it’s a sports blog, but the average person likely can’t differentiate between Yardbarker and SBNation or other fan-specific sites.

The lack of differentiation is a large contributor to the widespread denouncement of our report. It is a large part of the argument that happened between Spencer Hall/Brian Cook and Jason McIntyre/Alana G/Josh Zerkle this past weekend at Blogs With Balls 3.0 – a philisophical difference between bloggers at different sites. When people think “blogs” and think of the kind of sites that run rumors about Delonte West and Gloria James (for what it’s worth, we got the email that was published on a garbage website 4 days before it published there. I think that it was crap then and it still is crap now*), it is a slight to what we try to do here. It is exactly the same as thinking “newspapers” and lumping The New York Times in with The National Enquirer (I’m not saying that we are the Times or the Enquirer in this case – just pointing out that lumping “blogs” together is an obtuse thing to do).

I can speak only for myself, but I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments of Cook and Hall. We shouldn’t look at the medium of the content that we’re taking in, but rather at the quality of it (H/T: Ammo). We have guidelines and standards here at our site for a reason, and the fact that we do resonates with our readers (and we hope the greater blogosphere as a whole). By not dealing with salacious rumors or over-the-top stories, we hope to keep things reasonable, sane, and reliable.

Have we been wrong before? Certainly. Have we broken news before? Yes. We had the info about Brady Quinn’s house being on the market before anyone else. Scott had info about the Browns’ interest in Tom Heckert before anyone else. We had the story about LeBron’s second MVP award and where/when he would accept it before anyone. This Izzo story is arguably the biggest that we’ve had, for a number of reasons.

As a site we are growing in scope. This past spring we started getting access on occasion to events in Cleveland. We are doing our best to cultivate relationships with people in the business that we love to cover – the sports business. We are doing our best to make the most out of these relationships. We don’t publish news recklessly – that’s not something that we have done, nor is it something that we plan to do in the future. We want to bring you news and analysis that is relevant. If that means that we publish a news story first, that’s great. If that means that I photoshop a fish head onto Sebastian Telfair’s body, it happens.

A lot of great people came to our defense today. The readership community has been wholeheartedly behind us. For some it was instinctive, stick-up-for-blogs talk that came from the greater blogosphere. A great deal of the support came via wholly supportive tweets from highly-regarded bloggers and established media members for whom we have a great deal of respect. The fact that they’ll stand by us means a great deal to us. There are those who have said their mind about what we do, who think we’re nobody, and hey – that’s just dandy. You’ll see us publish an apology if we are wrong. I hope that we see the same from these established “journalists”, but I think we all know that’s not going to happen.

This whole situation reminded me of a great, great piece from Glenn Greenwald at Salon that I came across on Tumblr the other day. Edit: Greenwald included this quote from David Halberstam, on the state of American press (thanks, Alecks):

“There are a few things I would like to pass on to you as I come near to the end of my career. One: It’s not about fame. By and large, the more famous you are, the less of a journalist you are… Somewhere in there, gradually, but systematically, there has been an abdication of responsibility within the profession, most particularly in the networks… So, if we look at the media today, we ought to be aware not just of what we are getting, but what we are not getting; the difference between what is authentic and what is inauthentic in contemporary American life and in the world, with a warning that in this celebrity culture, the forces of the inauthentic are becoming more powerful all the time.”

We work hard to stay authentic to we we are as a site, most importantly because the community that we have established here is so authentically Cleveland. To all of you who have supported us in all of this, I want to say thank you on behalf of all of us. In a few days, we’ll know for sure whether or not our report was correct. Until then, we’re extremely grateful for the support you all have given us.

* I refer to the Delonte/Gloria James rumor as “crap” referring not to the sourcing of the story, but the contents. It’s not the kind of rumor that we’re prone to cover here. This is my opinion on the topic.

  • Mike


    I’m an MSU alum and a journalism geek. I’m not hiding behind some false image.

    It’s all been said 1000x, but I’ll say it once more, I guess — Izzo didn’t tell his players he was leaving, and the source that leaked the misinformation had secondhand information he got from Delvon Roe (that was later refuted by Roe), that he told WFNY (now, thirdhand information).

    There was a serious miscommunication there, and WFNY’s sources are no longer standing by their comments. So why doesn’t WFNY admit that they made a mistake, and that the decision is still in the air?

    If I’m wrong about Delvon, I’ll shut up, but believe me… the major media outlets in Detroit and Lansing know where WFNY got the information, and they know where the rumors started, and they know it’s not true.

  • MattyFos

    I’d like to state for he record that I was right. Now excuse me as I pound my chest.


  • Denny

    @ Mike – I think the point that I’m trying to make, though I never really explicitly said it, is that I see our site as a blog. Now, “blog” is a nebulous term and I really don’t know where we fit into the entire equation of news sources, etc. You’re here as a Sparty guy – one that came here yesterday, and has no real sense of what our site is. That’s fine, and I get that this piece sounds like it’s coming from the lead editor’s desk. I am not the lead editor here, by any stretch of the imagination. I cover every third weekend, and occasionally throw a piece in during the week. Most of my posts involve inane photoshops that incorporate an orange bear.

    But I wanted to write this as an explanation of how things happened. I felt that we owed it to our readership and to everyone else to explain everything. In this case, we are wearing the journo hat a little more than usual. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to all of the sudden become super serious or not have any fun with things. It’s a story that we came upon, are sure of, ran, and are standing by. Hopefully this clarifies a bit.

  • Clown Baby

    Mike – Don’t you find it odd that you are criticizing WFNY for making unsubstantiated comments, but have no problem making your own about knowing for a fact about who their sources are? You obviously know everything there is to know about journalism but seem to be lacking in self awareness. Remember us when you are on Around the Horn in a few years.

  • stin4u

    @Ty – so “We” the readers of WFNY can’t support our site and should take your word as gospel?

    Sorry, despite all of “your” efforts to fully explain the situation I think I will still side with my home town site. Call me crazy, but there is no one side coming out more convincing than the other thus far.

    If there was zero merit to this why bother exerting this much energy to refute it. This is not your blog, if the report was incorrect and Izzo announces he will stay the damage will be done without the Journalist police calling shenanigans.

  • mgbode

    ok Mike. do you have any links. i ask because if they have the sources saying they were the leaks to WFNY, I assume they would have run with that story

    i can’t find that story though. do they or do they not have those sources refuting this story directly?

    I do see this posted today, which further backs up this site though it too is another blog:

    I see nothing of what you mention. Maybe I can’t find it, so please help me with a link. Thanks.

  • dr. cleveland

    @ mgbode, thanks for posting that link. I think it says what we (or at least I) have all been trying to say piecemeal over the comments section since yesterday, but in more more depth and coherency.

  • dr. cleveland

    @ mgbode, thanks for posting that link. I think it says what we (or at least I) have all been trying to say piecemeal over the comments section since yesterday, but in more depth and coherency.

  • Team Wallace

    it’s cute how passionately some of you are defending the site over this.

    and by cute, I mean nauseating.

    p.s. I LOVE WFNY! no sarcasm.

  • MattyFos

    I guess ESPN just said that Izzo is close to signing with Cleveland.
    I heard that from my own second hand source.. My Bro-ha

    That’s brother for all of you white non-hood rats, quite like myself

  • Matt#2

    I enjoyed Mike and Ty’s defense of their conclusions. But their premise concerning Roe is speculation, unless they have inside information concerning this site.

    Journalism (whoopee, I’ve got a degree!) is NOT about printing the truth or printing everything, it is about printing NOW and printing HONESTLY and, hopefully, getting readers.

  • JK

    Mike & Ty –

    Thad Matta > Tom Izzo

    THE OSU’s athletics > MSU’s athletics

    Ohio > Michigan

    Columbus > East Lansing


    Denny > You


  • Jack




    [clap…clap…clap, clap, clap]

  • MattyFos


    Cleveland > Detroit

    Frank Jackson > Kwame Kilpatrick

    Jim Joyce > Armondo Galarraga

    Ohio terrorist cells > Dearborn

    Zanesville and Athens Dantnio > East Lansing Dantonio

    East Cleveland ghetto’er than East Lansing

    Raymar Morgan, Eric Snow > Jalen Rose

    Woody Hayes > Bo (tOSU) Flembechler

  • Ty


    No, you should take the word of every Lansing-based, Michigan-based, and national basketball reporter for whom covering State hoops is their job. You should take the word of the Michigan State AD, and Delvon Roe, and Delvon Roe’s dad, who’ve since come out and explained what they told people and how this all got out of hand. As an example, here’s this morning’s article, from the same writer who Izzo texted directly to refute the report he’d been formally offered the job:

    Do a little Googling, check ESPN, check any other source. It’s been explained what was said at that meeting: Izzo told his players he was considering the opportunity, NOT that he’d already decided to go.


  • mgbode

    “an unsubstantiated and obscure Internet report”
    “fabricated story”

    directly from that link.

    but, nowhere in it does it say that Roe told WFNY or anyone else that Izzo was gone. he thinks he will be gone and Lucas’s dad thinks he won’t be.

    so, noone comes out and says “I was the leak, but my story got misinterrupted” or anything of the like. and WFNY is sticking by their story, which means their sources are sticking by their story.

    what else am I missing here?

  • St. McDuck

    I would trust WFNY to watch my kid.
    I wouldn’t trust ESPN in the same room with my wife.

  • JK

    WFNY will be the best man at my wedding!

  • Shamrock

    @111 is that what journalism is about “these days”? I would hope FACTS would be the most important element not speed. I think facts and accuracy get sacrificed in lieu of speed and the need to report it first.

    I don’t personally consider blogs sports reporting but that’s just me. Is WFNY a sports blog?

  • christopher

    hey guys…just woke up from a three day nap.

    did i miss anything?

  • Clown Baby

    Christopher – WFNY hates Tom Izzo’s children.

  • A Bizzle

    Just want to say to the guys at WFNY: I love your site and the work you guys do. It’s all exquisite. And thank you also for clarifying this story. I admit, I was confused when you guys broke the story and then I read that it “wasn’t true” at larger media outlets. I’m glad you straightened this out and I’m sorry that you have to take these denigrating comments about being “Just a Blog”. I respect your story, and I’ll be glad to hear when this story breaks on ESPN, knowing you guys had it first.

  • Ty


    Yeah, that all happened YESTERDAY.

    “He told them about the job, he asked them what they think and what they feel about it,” said Delvon Blanton, father of MSU junior forward Delvon Roe. “They said they want him to stay and he said he feels the same way about them.”

    Izzo did not commit to a decision, however, and did not give a timetable for a decision, Blanton said. Every player had a chance to say something, and Roe told Izzo it “wouldn’t be right” to play for anyone else in college, according to Blanton.

    Denny quotes Brian Cook at the top of this post, and here’s what Brian said this morning:

    “This has caused much consternation on the twitters from local beatwriters, ESPN’s Pat Forde, and various other national basketball reporting folk. And… yeah… they’re not wrong. WFNY’s report has been directly refuted by multiple sources, with direct quotes from Blanton. This is yet another example of someone jumping the gun.”

    Guys, WFNY got this wrong, and everyone knew it yesterday. The ship has sailed. It’s not a debate. I have no doubt that this is a good blog, but they screwed this story way, way up.


  • Denny

    @ Ty – I published this piece just after MGoBrian published his. I forwarded it to him, and he made an addendum, knowing our intent. He’d already written his article before the clarification came, which was being written as he was writing his piece.

    Look – for as adamant as you are about all of this, I don’t expect an admittance that we were right. We know we’re right.

  • Matt#2


    I see it as less a “these days” thing than about how journalism is. Journalism has, to my knowledge, always been about speed in reporting and – for the livelihood of the reporting agency – being first. An honest disclosure about the relative reliability of the report should, in my opinion, accompany it.

    I am not one who touts or vouches for this or that site. The credibility of the site, to me, rises and falls on the honesty of the disclosure of relative reliability. The news value of the site, to me, rises and falls on how often high-stakes reports pan out – even if the agency is not “honest.”

    I do think WFNY’s saying “Our sources have heard directly from players on the MSU team…” was a mistake. It sounds, strangely, like WFNY independently knows that the sources heard directly from players. In such a short post, that kind of vouching stuck out to me. “Our sources claim to have heard…” would have been better, I think.

    For what it’s worth, however, WFNY does seem to be saying, by their sources, that more than one player’s word is involved.

  • Clown Baby

    Brian Cook is sure the beacon of sourced reporting. I believe he was the first to report that Kirk Ferentz was going to be named the coach of Um after Carr left.

  • A Bizzle

    Also… I think it’s telling that anyone who doesn’t believe this story has a big blue picture next to their name that basically says “OUTSIDER”. To Denny, and the guys at WFNY, the people who are on this site every day will stand by you. Let the haters hate.

  • Matt#2

    It seems like many folks are expecting Izzo and his team to say (in contravention of the WFNY-reported wish of coach Izzo about timing), “Okay, you pantsed me.”

  • AlexinIllinoi

    Did anybody else look at the comment section from the link in #106 am I the only one to notice that it seems Ty posted there to, I think he’s just an attention whore. Personal oppinion.

  • AlexinIllinoi

    My fault if you don’t like the w/h word didn’t read the read the read this link before posting.

  • Ty

    Yeah this is his addendum:

    “UPDATE: WFNY has done the full data dump suggested here. I still think they would have gotten a lot less attention straight away and looked better long term if they had gone for the soft sell, but it’s a major step in the right direction.”

    Okay, so we’re left with the word of a Cleveland blog with unnamed sources versus everyone who covers MSU sports for a living quoting the people involved on the record.

    Obviously, you’ve got a wonderfully committed readership, so your track record is good. But in this case, either your sources were wrong, or you’re the victim of a massive disinformation campaign by the university and all of sports media. I’ll apply Occam’s Razor.


  • Ty


    Yeah, attention whore. That, or I’m a sports blogger who reads lots of sports blogs and follows like a thousand sports bloggers on Twitter. One or the other. Maybe both!


  • DCBucks

    Apparently ESPN has a source now, too.

  • Matt#2


    What variety/number of sources are the posts refuting the WFNY post using?

    I am willing to reckon with the weight of a greater number witnesses but not so much with the weight of a greater number of posts generated from those witnesses.

    If the WFNY post is correct about the coach not wanting this to be public until the kids’ school year was over, would those sources be self- or coach-serving to refute the WFNY story?

    The WFNY side is difficult, though, as WFNY – if they were making it up – would be self-served (by reason of my previous sentence) by saying that the coach told the players that he did not want it public yet.

  • Honeyman Joel

    My point: If you step back for a second from what you desire to happen or your admiration for this blog and actually think of things l-o-g-i-c-a-l-l-y you cannot possibly come to the conclusion that Izzo would have told his team he was leaving, and then expected them to keep it quiet for days. Young kids, emotionally charged, in this twitter age, and he figured that the word wouldn’t get out?!?

    If you think Izzo is that dumb, why would you want him to coach your team?

    Again, he very well might go. And if so, as a die-hard Spartan, I would instantly be a Cavs fan. he built my program to a status i didn’t think was possible and if he chooses to take a larger challenge and more cash, he has earned it in my book. But as someone who has followed his career for decades, it is just not in his nature to do soemthing that WFNY’s sources are claiming.

  • ben

    Also, who is this Ty guy?
    If he’s not a MSM journalist himself, it’s getting sort of insane.
    For that matter, if he is a MSM journalist, what the heck is he doing spending his time arguing w/ commentors?

  • Matt#2

    Honeyman Joel,

    (“Honeyman” – excellent handle.)

    I think you have a valid angle.

    The only way to challenge it, that I see, would be to suggest that it could have been a purposed leak.

  • Ty


    Try clicking on the “Ty”. I write a Lions blog, The Lions in Winter, and I’m a big honkin’ Sparty. My intensity doesn’t come from the Sparty thing though; if you read my latest post, you’ll see I regard Izzo leaving for the NBA as a question of “when?” In fact, during the ’09 tourney, I told many people that if MSU won it all, he’d be a lock to go.

    The intensity comes from my frustration with the way blogs are still–STILL!–dismissed by the MSM as nothing but random crackpots, and it’s incidents like this that perpetuate it. The bottom line is, whether WFNY’s sources were dead on, or foul liars, WFNY had zero credibility built up beyond Cleveland. Going with anonymous sources that turned out to be “we know people who know people,” and then hard-selling it like they heard straight from the horse’s mouth . . . it was a big mistake, and it makes all sports bloggers look bad.


  • Clown Baby

    Very insightful Ty. I’m sure the writers of WFNY spend a lot of time figuring out how to make a CLEVELAND sports blog more appealing to those outside Ohio and how to up their credibility with said audience. I mean, it’s almost assured now that Timberwolves fans won’t be coming here for free agent updates. What you still don’t understand is that the MSM is dismissive of blogs and their articles. The only people crapping on WFNY’s credibility are other bloggers! Get it? You seem to have some sort of daddy complex with the MSM.

  • Honeyman Joel


    You’re totally missing Ty’s point. As far as MSM is concerned, he actually stated in large part exact;y what you just said (only more cogently).

    FACT: This blog said Tom Izzo told his team he is going to take the Cavaliers’ coaching job.

    FACT: Tom Izzo did not tell his team he is going to take the Cavaliers’ coaching job.

  • Matt#2


    “FACT: Tom Izzo did not tell his team he is going to take the Cavaliers’ coaching job.”

    You know this, in capital letters no less, because…
    …you were in the room?

  • Honeyman Joel

    No, I don’t know it as a fact, Matt. I’m just adding 2 and 2 and coming up with four.

    Besides, be gentle with me, will ya’?!? Tigers are getting two-hit by the frigging white sox and Izzo might be leaving!

  • crazycav

    Ok everyone needs to chill till tomorrow and we find out if Izzo takes this job or not. I am laughing at all the MSU people coming here to refute this story. I hope they come back and post tomorrow when Izzo accepts the job. Fight on WFNY!!!

  • Clown Baby

    But he’s missing the point Joel. This blog is Cleveland-centric just like his is for Lions fans. His biggest complaint is that this report makes blogs look bad in the eyes of MSM. My point is, who cares? ESPN/SI see these sites as competition so they are never going to embrace them. If Ty’s blog is read and liked by Lions fans that should be good enough for him. Who cares what Colin Cowherd thinks?

  • trivialstuff

    I was among those critical of their post yesterday. And I will say I appreciate them adding some context with this story but I 100 percent agree with Ty. They got too far out in front of this story.

    @ Matt: Ty’s already shown the on the record quote from Roe’s father. Here’s another, this is from the freep, although I think they stole it from the AP.

    “Meanwhile, assistant coach Mark Montgomery also said that Izzo called the team meeting only to discuss media reports about the Cavaliers’ interest and did not tell his players that he was leaving Michigan State.

    “He said he had been talking with the Cavs,” Montgomery said. “It was no different than what the players have been hearing in the news.”

    Montgomery said he wanted to have the meeting to keep players informed about what was taking place and to dispel any rumors. He said Izzo also discussed summer workouts and classes with the players.

    Windhorst also tweeted something to the effect that his sources told him that players got the “impression” that Izzo was leaving, but that no decision had been made. That might sound minor, but it is a huge difference.

    I have no doubt that this site has some credible sources who they talked to after the meeting, and who told them Izzo was leaving, because that’s what they believed the tone was of the meeting.

    But there have been numerous published reports with on the record sources quoted in those stories, that say he did not explicitly say that in the meeting. Like Ty, I think those stories have a lot more credibility, especially since today, most news reports seem to indicated that while Izzo may be leaning toward taking the job he has not made a decision. It would have been tough for him to tell his team something definitively when by most accounts he doesn’t know himself.

  • Matt#2

    Izzo is a phonetically agitating name.
    If he comes to Cleveland, we’ll be cranky all the time.

  • crazycav

    I want to add one more thing which lends itself to WFNY being correct. Do you really think Izzo is going to tell people he going to take the job and have his kids suffer potential harrassment at their schools in Michigan? Come on now. If I am in his shoes my kids are my number one priority. It is very possible he told the team he was taking it but TO DENY EVERYTHING TO PROTECT HIS KIDS!! It makes total sense for him till wait till tomorrow all the while visiting the Cavs facilities today. By the way other outlets are saying he is leaning toward taking the job.

  • BillTheHammer

    Ty you are not bringing any “peace” to this comment section. Please stop, and the rest of your Hater Aide Brethren. This is starting to sound like people arguing over whether or not Pro Wrestlers are athletes or entertainers.


    Macho Man Randy Savage

  • Matt#2

    To Whom It May Concern:

    The nub of this to me is whether Izzo told his team that he didn’t want it to go public yet.

    If Izzo accepts, I agree with those who say that would not confirm the WFNY story.

    The confirming revelation would be that he told his team to keep a lid on it. I am not holding my breath for that one.

    And I, again, have to concede to Honeyman (again, great handle) and others who say that such an instruction does not make sense (except as a “West Wing” purposed leak, about which you may rightly say, “give me a break.”).

    Why not wait until after his kids’ school year to tell his team and THEN go public?

  • Honeyman Joel


    My first name is Joel. In the early 80’s I was sitting around my apartment, smoking dope with some friends, watching MTV. Amongst the stoned discussion, I brought up the point that I had no middle name. At that moment, the VJ informed us that James Honeyman-Scott, Pretenders lead guitarist, was found dead of a drug overdose. In our marijuana-induced stupor, we all decided that it clearly karma, and that I must take “Honeyman” as my official middle name. And they haven’t called me Joel since.