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College Basketball

Tom Izzo eviscerates fans who criticize Spartans players on ‘frickin’ Twitter’

Tom Izzo has had it with the abuse Spartans players have been subjected to of late on “frickin’ Twitter,” and the Michigan State coach laid into those who have engaged in such antics — especially if they’re fans of the team — in a fiery rant this week.

Following Tuesday night’s 75-70 home-court loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions, Izzo relayed how Spartans players have let him know about social media trolls who have been giving them a hard time lately amid a two-game skid.

“I’m gonna tell you something, guys — and I really mean this from the bottom of my heart,” Izzo said, via ESPN. “If there’s any Michigan State people out there that are abusing some of my players on that frickin’ Twitter … I’m sick of it. OK? I’m sick of dealing with what I gotta deal with on that.

“So if there are Michigan State fans, I’d be more than happy to buy their tickets, and I mean that. I mean that. Now, if they’re not — but some of the stuff that my guys have put in front of me the last couple days — I mean, we’re still 16-7; we’re not 5-20.”

Izzo went on to point out he believes a majority of Spartans fans don’t engage in such behavior, and that his comments were solely directed at “despicable” individuals who are “sitting behind a chicken keyboard.”

Izzo is about as old school as it comes in the men’s college basketball coaching ranks, so his thoughts about social media trolls fall in line with that reputation. What’s more, he’s hardly the first coach to bemoan the pitfalls and risks to players that social media can present at times.

Beyond Izzo’s diatribe regarding the specific instances of late involving Spartans players, there has been debate in recent years over whether college athletes — not to mention those of an even younger age — should be the targets of trolling and criticism on social media. Regardless of one’s perspective on the issue, it’s not difficult to understand why Izzo came to the defense of his players once he caught wind of what was happening.