Michigan State Agrees To Hire Mel Tucker To Lead Spartan Football
Hondo S. Carpenter
State Farm Center
While the departure of Mark Dantonio from Spartan football was not a surprise (Spartan Nation reported the timing and scenario on August 20), it has remained a hectic few days. That wait is over. Pending the new coach signing his deal.
A source from the Michigan State Administration and a second in athletics have confirmed to Spartan Nation that Mel Tucker, who spend just spent one year as Colorado's coach, will be replacing Mark Dantonio as Michigan State's next head coach..
While the contract has not been signed, the two parties have agreed for Tucker to be the coach. The Spartans also had an agreement in principle (as they do now with Tucker) within the past few days with Luke Fickell, but he chose to stay at Cincinnati.
Multiple people reported that the deal with Fickell was, "done," and it obviously was not. He is not the coach at MSU. Spartan Nation is reporting that the parties have agreed in principle, but the contract has yet to be signed and ratified by the Board of Trustees.
On Tuesday, Tucker was on Colorado radio doing interviews that now makes no sense:
Here is another fascinating ready from Colorado media from Tuesday WHEN YOU CLICK RIGHT HERE
The Buffaloes were 5-7 last season in Tucker's first year as a head coach. Here is the rest of his resume, before last season courtesy of the Colorado Buffaloes website:
Tucker enjoyed a tremendous run at Georgia, where he was instrumental in the Bulldogs compiling a 32-9 record along with winning the school's first Southeastern Conference championship in 12 years when UGA defeated Auburn in the league's 2017 title game. One of the staff's top recruiters, 247Sports.com ranked him as the No. 14 recruiter in the nation based off the class he helped UGA sign ahead of the 2018 season.
Georgia's defense was ranked in the top 25 in several key categories, most notably in total defense (13th, 311.2 yards allowed per game), passing defense (15th, 180.5 per game) and scoring defense (15th, 18.5 points per outing).
In the 2018 SEC Championship game in which Alabama rallied to win, 35-28, his Bulldog defense held the Crimson Tide scoreless in the first quarter for the first time all season, forced a UA season-high four three-and-outs (in 12 possessions) and held its Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, to a season-worst 92.3 rating. His defenses were dialed in on third down, as the Tide were 8-of-25 in the last two games against UGA, dating back to the 2018 national championship game which Alabama also rallied to win, 26-23, in overtime.
In 2017, Tucker was part of the UGA staff that led the Bulldogs to a school record-tying 13 victories, along with the school's first SEC championship since 2005 and first appearances in the College Football Playoff (and victory, which was over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl/CFP semifinal game) and in the College Football Playoff Championship game. Georgia's defense finished second in the SEC and sixth nationally in both scoring defense (16.4 ppg) and in total defense (294.9 ypg), while also finishing second in the conference in rushing defense. One of his players, Roquan Smith, won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker.
In his first year at UGA, Tucker guided a Bulldog defense that ranked among the nation's top 20 units in total defense, passing defense, turnovers gained and first down defense.
Tucker was named UGA defensive coordinator and secondary coach in January 2016, just days after winning a national championship with Alabama (which defeated Clemson 45-40 in the CFP title game). He spent that 2015 season serving as assistant head coach and defensive backs coach for the Crimson Tide, the third time he was hired by Nick Saban.
Saban gave Tucker his start in the coaching profession in 1997 when he hired him as a graduate assistant at Michigan State. He spent two seasons there, working with the defensive backs directly under another highly successful collegiate head coach in Dantonio, who eventually would be named the Spartans' head coach.
Tucker spent the 1999 season as defensive backs coach at Miami (Ohio) under Coach Terry Hoeppner. In 2000, Tucker returned to work with Saban at Louisiana State for one season before joining Jim Tressel's staff at Ohio State for the next four years (2001-04). While in Columbus, the Buckeyes went 14-0 in 2002 and won the BCS National Championship in a thrilling overtime win over Miami, Fla. In his last season there, Tucker was elevated to co-defensive coordinator. At Ohio State, he recruited four players who would eventually be first round NFL Draft selections and the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Troy Smith.
In 2005, an opportunity emerged for him to coach in the National Football League with his hometown Cleveland Browns. The team's new head coach, Romeo Crennel, had come over from his duties as New England's defensive coordinator and hired Tucker to coach the secondary. After three seasons tutoring the Browns' defensive backs, he was promoted to defensive coordinator. In that 2008 season, the Browns were second in the NFL with 23 interceptions and ranked 16th in scoring defense (21.9 points per game). For his four seasons overall with Cleveland, the Browns ranked fifth in the league with 73 interceptions, seventh in passing yards allowed and gave up the fourth-fewest completions of 25-plus yards.
Tucker moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009, when Jack Del Rio hired him as his defensive coordinator and secondary coach; the following two years, he strictly coordinated the defense while consulting at all positions (called "walk arounds"). Near the end of his third year with the Jaguars, he was promoted to interim head coach for the final five games in 2011 after Del Rio was dismissed; he coached Jacksonville to a 2-3 record to end the season. Despite the team owning an overall 5-11 record, the Jags were sixth in the league in total defense that season, surrendering just 313 yards per game. He would return as the Jaguars assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the 2012 season under Mike Mularkey.
He was hired by Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman in 2013, where he would spend his last two seasons in the pro ranks. In all, he worked 10 years in the NFL, including seven as a defensive coordinator.
A 1995 graduate of the University of Wisconsin with his bachelor's degree in Agricultural Business Management, he was a member of the first recruiting class for Coach Barry Alvarez. He lettered three times at both cornerback and safety from 1990-94 and was on the Badgers' 1993 Big Ten champion team that defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl, 21-16. As a sophomore, he made a game-saving hit in the end zone with time running out that preserved a 19-16 win at Minnesota; as a senior, he played the Buffaloes in Boulder, though UW left town with a 55-17 loss to a CU team that would finish No. 3 in the nation. He had 47 tackles and four pass deflections in his career (he missed his entire junior season after breaking a leg in fall camp).
Tucker was a member of Alvarez' first recruiting class at Wisconsin, and remains close to this day with several teammates who have gone on to make their marks in college athletics, including Troy Vincent (the NFL executive vice president for football operations), Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts general manager), Darrell Bevell (longtime NFL offensive coordinator with Minnesota and Seattle), Joe Rudolph (Wisconsin's associate head coach and offensive coordinator) and Duer Sharp (former commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference).
He was born Melvin Tucker II on January 4, 1972 in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from Cleveland Heights High School, where he was an all-state performer in football and an all-conference basketball player (the Cleveland Plain Dealer twice named him to its all-scholastic team). He is married to the former JoEllyn Haynesworth, who earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois and her law degree from Rutgers University. The couple has two sons born on the same day (February 18) two years apart, Joseph (16) and Christian (14).
While Spartan Nation HAS NOT confirmed with a second source the exact numbers, the source from the Michigan State athletic department told Spartan Nation, "It is in the $5 million per year for five-year range."
Earlier in the week Tucker, via Twitter:
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