The Michigan State coaching search was a wild one that saw a few twists and turns and most thought it would end in Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell taking the job. However, that didn’t end up being the case.
Colorado head coach Mel Tucker was rumored to be a candidate at first, but then he took to Twitter to denounce any rumors of him leaving Boulder after one season.
So where would the Spartans turn? Well, it turns out they would turn back to Tucker and the way they were going to lure him back to where his coaching career started was the same way that a lot of coaching moves happen: money.
On top of paying the $3 million buyout to buy Tucker out of his contract with Colorado, there are reports of the Spartans doubling his salary from Colorado so clearly, the Spartans administration recognized the significance of this hire and spending money on it.
While leaving after one season as a head coach is not a good look, especially when he takes to Twitter to tweet the above, reasonable people can’t blame him for leaving when he is getting that much of a raise and he is going back to the part of the country that he is from and is greatly familiar with.
Tucker is a Cleveland, Ohio native and as mentioned, his coaching career started as a GA at Michigan State.
After plenty of stops in both college and the NFL, Tucker rose to prominence after becoming the defensive coordinator at Georgia in 2016. After three great seasons in Athens where the Bulldogs were playing great defense and Tucker was well-thought-of for his ability to recruit.
This led to him being able to land the Colorado job after the 2018 season. He didn’t have the strongest season in what turned out to be his lone season in Boulder, but he was taking over somewhat of a rebuild. After starting out 3-1, the Buffaloes lost five straight games before winning the next two and then losing to Utah to end the season with bowl eligibility on the line. finishing the season 5-7.
While the on-field success was off and on this last season, Tucker showed his recruiting ability by pulling in the 35th ranked class nationally at a program that had been in the 40s and 50s nationally the two previous recruiting cycles.
At first, it wouldn’t be surprising to see recruits and parents be wary because of him leaving Colorado after one season, but when these situations happen in college sports it usually doesn’t have too much of an impact on the coach’s ability to recruit, especially in the long-term.
The Spartans are coming off of back-to-back 7-6 seasons where they played bad offense. There are also some questions about the culture of the program at the moment and whether or not the NCAA could come sniffing around at some point. However, those are just rumors at this point.
Tucker had seemed to have a good culture established in his first season at Colorado and that will be the most important thing for him to establish in year one in East Lansing.
With him being familiar with that part of the country, recruiting should be something he can do, but he will also be competing against the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State in his division of the Big Ten, and that’s nothing like he was dealing with in the Pac-12 South.
Overall this is a good hire for it to come this late in the hiring cycle.
It will be important for Tucker to bring in a strong recruiting class in his first full cycle, better than the 43rd-ranked nationally class they have coming in this upcoming season.
Tucker will also need to put together a strong staff, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. Tucker, of course, has a defensive background and it won’t be as important for him to put together a great defensive staff as an offensive staff. As mentioned, the Spartans have been bad the past two seasons offensively. There’s really no room to go but up on that side of the ball, but how far they go up is ultimately going to determine the success of failure of Mel Tucker’s stint at Michigan State.
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