Taking over in East Lansing in 2020, Mel Tucker had a lot on his plate. It showed as his team went 2-5 in the pandemic-shortened season.

Heading into his second season as the Spartans’ leading man, Tucker appears to be aware of his team’s struggles and what he wants to do to improve things. That was put on display during his time at the podium at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis.

One thing that has become a trend among college football coaches now is the ‘Year Zero’ phenomenon. Employed by the likes of Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck, it’s a way to frame a rough opening year. Don’t expect Tucker to be using that verbiage, however.

It’s been a rough few years now for Michigan State football and its fanbase. After a run of Big Ten championships in the early 2010s, the Spartans have taken a significant fall from grace. Since 2018, Michigan State has not won more than seven games in a season.

In 2020, things hit really hard for Michigan State with the 2-5 record, including a 49-7 drubbing against Iowa and a 24-0 loss to Indiana at home. The losing is something Tucker is looking to stop.

The reference to 1997 is when Tucker worked for the Spartans as a grad assistant. Having previous ties to the program and just being a competitor, his goal is pretty obvious for Michigan State football.

The hill Michigan State has to climb is pretty steep as the team looks to improve while other Big Ten East programs such as Indiana and Rutgers are on the rise.