Dan Dakich Calls Michigan State Whiny, Tom Izzo and Spartan Fans Prove Him Right
Dan Dakich is a professional agitator. He's like the Kirk Maltby of college basketball broadcasting.
He enjoys trolling fans on Twitter and engaging in trash talk. He has some unconventional beliefs, and he's not shy about them.
So it shouldn't have come as a surprise earlier this week when he took to Twitter to blast Michigan State fans as whiners. He took on one particular hater by tweeting that he was probably an MSU student who wasn't smart enough to get into Michigan.
Dakich laid a trap, and a lot of people fell for it. Par for the course for a guy who's found his niche as a media instigator.
But in their rush to get revenge and/or hold Dakich to account, Michigan State fans proved him right.
And, even more surprisingly, so did Tom Izzo.
Izzo spent the opening two minutes of his postgame press conference Tuesday night ripping into Dakich for the comments. He brought it up on his own, completely unsolicited, to start the presser. And after his team captured a significant win that might figure in to the ultimate result of its season.
Dakich's entire point here is that Spartan fans are too sensitive, too governed by their own emotions and passion for all things Green and White to think clearly and objectively. And a lot of MSU fans obliged his assertion by putting that very characteristic on display.
Izzo seems to think such sophomoric back-and-forth is beneath Dakich and his position. The irony is that entering into the fray is actually beneath Izzo and his--after all, he's the Hall Of Fame head coach with multiple mantles of trophies, including a crystal basketball. Izzo is one of the brightest minds in all of basketball, whereas Dakich is just watching the games like the rest of us: Dakich has nothing on Izzo.
Look, Dakich's job is to start stuff. Although he occupies a similar seat and the same on-air role as the serious likes of Jay Bilas or Hubie Brown, his job is very different.
ESPN doesn't employ Dakich as a color commentator and sports radio host for old-school, objective-journalism purposes. He's there because he's controversial and often provokes a great deal of engagement (or "buzz," as industry types like to say) with his irreverent utterances.
Translation: The outrage Dakich engendered among State fans and Izzo is exactly why he has the job he has.
For Izzo and Spartan fans to suggest Dakich's tweets were over the line or unprofessional is misinformed: He's not a journalist--he's an entertainer. If one of the beat writers for a venerated, respected bastion of serious, dispassionate journalism--like The Detroit Free Press, for example--had engaged in such banter, that would be an example of professional impropriety. Because serious journalists are held to high standards: Namely, they are paid to objectively report the truth and facts.
A guy who works for a TV network that's doing a crossover with a soap opera and also employs as a broadcaster a guy who unabashedly endorses the legalization of marijuana--you know, the same substance that would result in the players he covers finding themselves in serious peril--isn't subject to those same rigors.
If effectively doing one's job is "crossing the line," that's the only way Dakich crossed the line. (If you want to call him out for something, though, give him grief for deleting the tweets. A guy who collects a quality paycheck for starting trouble ought to have the fortitude to stand by his theatrical missives--not to mention he ought to know you can never fully remove something from the Internet.)
It's totally understandable why any MSU fan--including Izzo--would bristle at Dakich's tweets. But by responding, and especially by Izzo's public admonishment and demand for an apology from Dakich, they end up not only proving the brazen broadcaster right, they lend a lot of validation to his argument.
There's an old saying: "Never get down in the mud with a pig--you both get dirty, and the pig likes it."
In this case, the pig got the first and the last laugh.