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Michigan State basketball: Tum Tum Nairn quickly rising the coaching ranks

Could Tum Tum soon be back in East Lansing?



Michigan State basketball
© Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Former Michigan State basketball player Tum Tum Nairn is quickly rising the coaching ranks. Could he be back soon?

Tum Tum Nairn was adored by Michigan State basketball fans immensely during his time in East Lansing. He’s probably on a lot of fans’ radars when asked who they want to be the coach when Tom Izzo is ready to hang it up.

Tum Tum was never the best player on the court, he wasn’t even the best point guard on the roster at any point during his career, but what he brought to the program is something that only some can describe. Leadership is one word, family is another, as well as humility. The point being, I’ve never heard a negative word about the former point guard. 

Michigan State fans throw around the word Spartan Dawg to anyone who has given any time of their life to the university, but nobody is more deserving of that title than Tum. His faith and leadership have been two defining characteristics, and I personally saw a future in coaching while he was still a player. He gave Izzo an extra coach on the court, and off, being a voice that captivated an entire locker room.

With that being said, nothing feels more fitting than seeing Tum Tum accept a new coaching job. 

I’m not going to pretend to know what a typical timeline or path is for a college basketball coach but Tum Tum is only 28 and on his fourth coaching job. He’s done this while rising the ranks seemingly fast.

Starting as a grad assistant at Michigan State after his career ended, he spent two years on the Breslin sidelines. After that, his coaching career began at Sunrise Christian Academy, his alma mater. He spent one year as the head coach before accepting a position as an assistant coach at Southern Utah. Now he is following his old coach at Southern Utah to Bowling Green.

I’m curious to see where his coaching career takes him, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if we see him back on the Michigan State sidelines at some point, even if that’s as an assistant for his next stop. It’s obvious that Nairn’s leadership translated to his post-basketball playing career and I’m excited to watch his journey as a coach on the sidelines. 

To give a quick MSU spin to this, I would absolutely love him in East Lansing. When it’s all said and done, it will be impossibly difficult to replace Izzo. Who knows what the right choice will be, who will be available, or when that day will even come. With that being said, I could absolutely see Tom inviting Tum Tum back onto the Breslin Center sidelines at some point.

Izzo was an inside hire after being an assistant to Jud Heathcote. Izzo is another guy who rose up the coaching ranks quite quickly. He took an assistant coach offer and after a few years was given the associate position. It’s certainly something to monitor and bring up when having the “next head coach” debate.

Writer for Spartan Shadows since 2022. Articles focusing on Michigan State Basketball, Football, soccer, and general experience. Die hard Michigan State fan, with a passion for creating engaging content.


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