Michigan State Football: Mel Tucker was the right choice for Spartans

Michigan State football stepped up, paid the big bucks and landed Colorado coach Mel Tucker. This was the right move for the Spartans.

Michigan State’s coaching search seemed like all was not going well. However, eight days after the sudden retirement of their now former head coach, the Spartans now have a new man in charge of their program. His name is Mel Tucker and he brings with him hope and the prospects of a better tomorrow for a program that needs drastic change.

The Cleveland, Ohio, native who played his college ball at Wisconsin is now the head football coach at Michigan State. It’s a homecoming of sorts as he got his first coaching opportunity as a graduate assistant under then Michigan State football coach Nick Saban.

Under Saban, he worked with defensive backs and was mentored by then defensive backs coach Mark Dantonio.

Tucker would later become the defensive backs coach at Ohio State and in his last season in Columbus, he was promoted to co-defensive coordinator. After coaching at the collegiate level, he went on to be the defensive coordinator with three NFL teams. At one point, he was the interim head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars for five games.

After serving as the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, he came back to the collegiate level and took a position at Alabama under Saban and Tucker then had a highly successful stint as the defensive coordinator at Georgia.

Prior to becoming the head coach at Michigan State, he was the head football coach at Colorado for one season.

Coaching accomplishments and highlights:

  • Was on the coaching staff of two national champions teams (Ohio State in 2002 and Alabama in 2015)
  • As the defensive coordinator at Georgia, he helped lead the Bulldogs to winning the school’s first SEC Championship in 12 years when they defeated Auburn in the league’s 2017 title game.
  • 247Sports ranked him as the No. 14 recruiter in the nation.
  • As the head coach at Colorado, he defeated his two main rivals in Nebraska and Colorado State as well as victories over Arizona State, Stanford and Washington.

Tucker is the right fit for Michigan State as he is only 48 years of age, played collegiality in the Big Ten when he was a defensive back at Wisconsin, started his coaching career at Michigan State, coached at Ohio State, has experience as an NFL defensive coordinator, did very well as a defensive coordinator at Georgia and has a proven track record as very good recruiter.

However, he does inherit a tough situation as he is taking on players that he has not recruited.

From a national standpoint, Tucker has worked under arguably the No. 1 coach of all time in college football three times during his coaching career. Former Michigan State head football coach Nick Saban has a long history with Tucker. He recruited Tucker out of high school when Saban was the head coach at Toledo and then he brought him on as a graduate assistant at Michigan State.

Saban then hired him when he was at LSU as a defensive backs coach, and then hired him again as an assistant head coach and defensive backs coach at Alabama. There is even a report that Saban played a role in the hiring of Tucker for Michigan State.

Regardless of the connection between Saban and Tucker and the debate of how relevant it is moving forward, it doesn’t hurt to have arguably the most accomplished college football coach vouching for you to be the head coach at Michigan State.

Much has been made about Michigan State’s coaching search after the abrupt retirement of Dantonio, the long-time head coach. Michigan State even had what appeared to be a checklist of what they wanted as their next head coach and Tucker checked everything off.

The now-former Colorado coach played collegiality in the Big Ten at Wisconsin, he coached at Michigan State at the same time Dantonio was the defensive backs coach in East Lansing, he was born and raised in Cleveland, has proven that he can recruit the state of Ohio having lived in the Midwest most of his life and he has NFL coaching experience which has helped him be able to recruit more efficiently as he is considered a top tier recruiter national.

On paper, he is everything Michigan State wanted and more.

The Spartans were able to get a quality Power Five head coach which should restore faith in the Michigan State program.

Michigan State has given him the resources necessary moving forward with commitments financially for hiring top tier assistants and revamping the strength and conditioning program.

Michigan State has a very difficult schedule for the 2020 season and regardless of how well Tucker does as a coach in year one, he brings hope that in three years, the Spartans will be seriously competing for Big Ten titles and more moving forward.