Michigan State Hires Mel Tucker As Head Coach

By Dan Hope on February 12, 2020 at 2:06 am
Mel Tucker
Jeff Swinger – USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State has its new head coach, and like Mark Dantonio, he's a former Ohio State assistant coach.

Mel Tucker, who worked alongside Dantonio as Ohio State's defensive backs coach from 2001-03 and was the Buckeyes' co-defensive coordinator in 2004, agreed in principle to become the Spartans' new head coach late Tuesday night, as first reported by The Athletic's Bruce Feldman. Michigan State officially announced the hiring on Wednesday.

Tucker became the head coach at Colorado in 2019, after three years as the defensive coordinator at Georgia, and initially planned to stay with the Buffaloes after interviewing with Michigan State over the weekend:

According to Feldman's report, however, Tucker reconsidered and ultimately accepted the job after “MSU power brokers came back repeatedly to Tucker’s reps with an offer that was impossible to ignore.” Per Feldman, Michigan State “will more than double Tucker’s Colorado salary, which is around $2.7 million.” (Update: Tucker's six-year contract is set to pay him $5.5 million per year, per Larry Lage of the Associated Press.)

A 48-year-old Cleveland native, Tucker began his coaching career at Michigan State as a graduate assistant in 1997-98 after playing defensive back at Wisconsin. Before he went on to Ohio State, Tucker was the defensive backs coach at Miami (Ohio) and LSU, and he later went on to coach for the NFL's Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears before returning to the collegiate level to become the assistant head coach and defensive backs coach at Alabama – where he worked for another former Michigan State head coach, Nick Saban – in 2015.

Tucker went 5-7 in his lone season as the head coach at Colorado, his first season as a head coach at any level.

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