Despite an ugly incident over the weekend that saw Michigan head coach Juwan Howard strike Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft in the face after getting into it with Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard as their respective teams were lining up to shake hands, Michigan State coaching legend Tom Izzo doesn’t want the postgame handshake line going anywhere.
“That, to me, would be the biggest farce, joke, ridiculous nature of anything I’ve ever heard of,” Izzo told reporters. “We’ve already taught these poor 18-year-olds that when you’re told to go to class and you don’t like it, you can leave. We’ve already told these kids that if you’re not happy, you can do something else. We’ve already told these kids that it’s hard to hold them accountable. And now we’re going to tell them to not man up and walk down a line to someone who’s kicked your butt and have enough class to shake their hand is utterly ridiculous. So if the president said it, I think he’s full of it. If the best coach in America said it, I think … that gets me more than this incident.”
In the wake of the altercation, the NCAA suspended Howard for the remainder of Michigan’s regular season and fined him $40,000. The Wolverines have five games remaining on their regular-season schedule and are on the bubble of qualifying for March Madness.
Izzo and the Spartans should be playing in the Big Dance next month — and shaking hands with their opponents.
“Not shaking hands, that’s typical of our country right now,” Izzo said. “Instead of solving the problem, let’s make an excuse and let’s see if we can just, instead of confronting and demanding that it changes, let’s eliminate it so that we don’t have those problems. Let’s try to do that. That’s not happening here. So if some team doesn’t want to shake hands, you’re going to see 15 of my guys walk down and shake air. We’re going to shake air and I’m going to shake air and then we’re going to leave.”
For what it’s worth, postgame handshakes and greetings were eliminated by a number of sports on all levels at various points during the COVID-19 pandemic for safety reasons and it really wasn’t a huge loss. Keeping them in place as Izzo wants is fine, but getting rid of postgame handshakes — and maybe even handshakes in general — would not be the “biggest farce” imaginable. (Howard keeping his job might be.)