Michigan State hires Mel Tucker as head coach

Tanya Simon
February 14, 2020

Tucker said Michigan State showed interest in him late last week and the feeling was mutual.

SpartanMag.com has verified with a source close to the search committee and a source at the University of Colorado that Mel Tucker will be leaving Colorado to become the next football coach at Michigan State University. Per Feldman's report, MSU officials made a second appeal to Tucker after another former Ohio State coach, Luke Fickell, turned the Spartans down to remain at Cincinnati. The former head coach went 114-57 with the Spartans and earned bowl appearances in 12 of 13 years, including a Rose Bowl victory in 2014.

Tucker left Alabama after that National Championship in 2015 and joined Kirby Smart at Georgia. He was defensive backs coach at Ohio State from 2001 through 2003 before being promoted to the Buckeyes' co-defensive coordinator.

In total, Tucker is guaranteed an annual salary of $5.5 million - more than double his salary at Colorado.

Michigan State scheduled a board meeting for later Wednesday to formally approve the hire and a news conference with Tucker was scheduled for early evening. That appears to be when the Spartans re-visited the possibility of hiring Tucker, an OH native and former Big Ten defensive back at Wisconsin.

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Tucker, 48, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Saban at Michigan State and later had stints as Saban's defensive backs coach at both LSU and Alabama. He was the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2008 and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2009-2012).

When asked if he ever envisioned a return to East Lansing, Tucker said, "I hoped ..." He also was the interim head coach for Jacksonville over the final five games in 2011 after Jack Del Rio was sacked.

Tucker also spent more than a decade in the National Football League as a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears.

On Tuesday evening, he attended a Colorado booster event before accepting the MSU job hours later.

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