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Mel Tucker

Mel Tucker cheers up players during warm up before the game against Western Michigan at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.

Mel Tucker enters the 2023 season after an up-and-down start to his tenure at Michigan State. Just a season removed from being one of the hot names in the world of coaching, Tucker is trying to get the Spartans to rebound from a missed bowl game in 2022.

Tucker was originally hired by Michigan State in February of 2020 after Mark Dantonio’s oddly timed retirement. Unfortunately, Tucker did not get much time on the job before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, followed by the shortened 2020 B1G football season.

With a complete offseason, Tucker overhauled the Spartan roster through the transfer portal and added a number of key pieces. That included star running back Kenneth Walker III, who transformed into a Heisman candidate during his lone season with Michigan State.

During the 2021 season, Tucker led Michigan State to great success with an 11-2 overall record and a New Year’s Six bowl appearance. That game would go down as a win over Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl.

Tucker was rewarded during the middle of the 2021 season with a new contract extension as his name was reportedly connected as an option for multiple openings around the country. The 10-year, $95 million contract immediately put Tucker among the highest-paid coaches in the sport.

Unfortunately, Michigan State was unable to keep the double-digit wins rolling in the 2022 season. The Spartans went 5-7, missed a bowl game for the second time in Tucker’s 3 seasons at the helm and dealt with the fallout from an ugly fight scene in the tunnel of Michigan Stadium after a loss to archrival Michigan.

Since then, Tucker has dealt with questions surrounding the culture of his Spartan program due to the off-field incident and multiple players entering the transfer portal prior to the 2023 season. Most notably, starting quarterback Payton Thorne departed East Lansing via the portal after 2 years starting for the Spartans.

Prior to coming to Michigan State, Tucker spent 1 season as a head coach at Colorado. He led the Buffs to a 5-7 record in 2019 before leaving for the Spartans.

Prior to becoming a head coach, Tucker rose to prominence on the SEC coaching staffs of Nick Saban and Kirby Smart. He spent 2 stints on the staff of Saban: at LSU in 2000 and at Alabama in 2015. Tucker left Saban and the Crimson Tide in 2016 to serve on Smart’s first coaching staff at Georgia.

Early in his career, Tucker spent time on Jim Tressel’s Ohio State staff. He spent 3 seasons coaching defensive backs for the Buckeyes, including during the 2002 national championship run for Ohio State.



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