Tom Izzo has blunt response to absurd handshake line suggestion

"That, to me, would be the biggest farce, joke, ridiculous nature of anything I've ever heard of."
Michigan State’s head coach Tom Izzo, left, and Michigan head coach Juwan Howard shake hands after the game on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. 220129 Msu Mich 273a

Following the events at the end of the game between the Michigan Wolverines and Wisconsin Badgers, in which UM head coach Juwan Howard smacked a UW assistant in the head and kicked off a mini-brawl, there have some rumblings about potentially ending post-game handshake lines in order to avoid these situations in the future.

One of the loudest voices regarding this potential change has been college basketball broadcasting legend Dick Vitale.

It’s s fairly absurd notion considering the thousands and thousands of post-game handshake lines that take place after basketball games without incident. To ban this moment of good sportsmanship because of a handful of negative incidents would be inane and defeat the entire purpose. It’s like banning cars because a couple of people got into accidents.

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, who previously said that the Michigan-Wisconsin fight was “bad for basketball,” stopped well short of saying the handshake line was the problem. If anything, the idea of getting rid of it is a “farce.”

“That, to me, would be the biggest farce, joke, ridiculous nature of anything I’ve ever heard of,” Izzo told reporters Monday. “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.”

Izzo then went on to say that simply ending the handshake line instead of using this as an opportunity to remind people why we do it would be to miss the entire point.

“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.”

Izzo said that if an opponent decided to skip the handshake line, his players would continue to line up, even if they had to “shake air.”

“That’s not happening here,” Izzo said. “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.”

Vitale responded to Izzo’s comments by saying that he agrees that the point of the handshake line is to display good character, but he continues to cite “fights” that continue to take place without actually providing examples. It’s weird.

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to