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Is Mel Tucker Distracted?

Michigan and Michigan State are set to square off in the biggest matchup between the two rival schools in more than 50 years.

With the huge top-ten matchup between Michigan and Michigan State now just four days away, Spartan head coach Mel Tucker should be completely focused on the Wolverines.

But is he?

LSU recently announced that the school and current head coach Ed Orgeron had mutually agreed to part ways following the 2021 season. Naturally, upon that announcement, rumors began swirling about potential coaching candidates to fill the vacancy. Names included in those rumors included Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher, Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley, Louisiana's Billy Napier and one Mel Tucker.

So now instead of fielding questions about Aidan Hutchinson, Cade McNamara, Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins, Tucker is talking about LSU and where his focus is at this week.

“My focus is on the upcoming game versus the school down the road," Tucker said at his Monday press conference. "That’s where my concentration and my focus is, and I really appreciate you understanding that."

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I think it's interesting that he touched on his "current" focus, which is obviously this week's game, but didn't deny interest in LSU and didn't squash the rumors at all. 

In actuality it probably doesn't really matter what Tucker says. We all know you can't really trust what any coaches say once the carousel starts to spin and their names get linked to other jobs. With Tucker specifically, we know he has no problem with bending the truth. He tweeted this out in February of 2020:

He was announced as Michigan State's head coach four days later.

Tucker has done a phenomenal job at MSU and LSU's interest in him is proof of that. However, this is not ideal. Michigan State fans and media are spinning this into an opportunity to take shots at Jim Harbaugh and Michigan by saying things like, "You're just mad because no one wants your coach." That's actually not bad as far as insults go, but the fact is, you'd much rather your head coach not be addressing coaching vacancies before the biggest game of his career. 

The impact of this distraction may be minimal and might not have any bearing on the outcome of Saturday's game, but the fact that Tucker is fielding questions about LSU during his Monday presser ahead of the Michigan game is noteworthy. As Tucker attempts to go 2-0 against Michigan and Harbaugh, you can't help but wonder if the whisper of "Go Tigers" might just be floating around in his head.