When Michigan State knocked on Mel Tucker’s door to offer him the job as head coach the first time, the then-Colorado leader was able to decline. But a few days later, members of the athletic department returned, this time with the offer of a suitcase full of cash, the offer was too tempting to decline.
On Wednesday, Tucker was introduced officially as Michigan State’s next head coach, replacing Mark Dantonio after 13 seasons with the Spartans. The program will be starting from scratch, as Tucker will be bringing in his own staff to begin a new era of football in East Lansing.
A few days after the news was made official, Tucker spoke with ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg about his decision to leave Colorado for Michigan State, especially after he tweeted out that he was committed to the Buffaloes.
Tucker explained that he was committed to doing everything he needed to do while at Colorado — and that he planned to continue to be the head coach. That all changed when MSU’s coaching search circled back to Tucker.
“I was committed to doing my job while I was there, whether it was recruiting, fundraising, coaching. The entire time that I was there, I was playing through the whistle,” Tucker told Rittenberg. “But Michigan State made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse.”
Tucker is scheduled to make $5.5 million per year as the Michigan State head coach, essentially doubling his salary after one season at Colorado. But Tucker insists it wasn’t just the money that changed his mind.
“There was a level of commitment there to me. It was so strong, it was so apparent, it was so clear. There was a belief in me,” he said. There’s a tremendous pride here. They believe in this football program. I’m excited to be back here. This is where it all started for me.”
Along with the large payday, Tucker will also get around $6 million to hire his assistant coaches, also double what he was receiving from Colorado. That will allow Tucker the opportunity to go out and hire some of the top coordinators and position coaches in the game — if interested.
Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press reported that Tucker will not be retaining Dantonio’s assistants, so he’ll need to be active making his hires early.