Michigan State LB Antjuan Simmons Talks New Coach Mel Tucker
Hondo S. Carpenter
Michigan State’s hiring of Mel Tucker last Wednesday brought an end to a whirlwind week that started with Mark Dantonio’s abrupt retirement, leading to the difficult timing of a coaching search where Michigan State heavily pursued Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell, who turned the Spartans down, which led them to the 48-year old Tucker.
When Tucker first arrived on campus, he had the opportunity to have a brief meeting with the players before he addressed the media on Wednesday night, and it’s safe to say the former Colorado head coach made a big first impression on them.
Michigan State linebacker Antjuan Simmons spoke at Tucker’s introductory press conference and said he and his teammates were impressed with their new head coach at the first team meeting and added that even with a major change to the program, the Spartans are going to still have the same expectations moving forward.
“We're excited, we've been working all week,” he said. “We've been working hard and want to thank you for coming. It's an honor to have you, you know, that team meeting, it was intense, but we're ready. We're going to play for you. You guys know, the head of the program changes, but the expectations don't. We still are going to have the same expectations for this program and we’re going to play hard.”
Tucker said that when he spoke to his team for the first time his message was one that preached supporting one another, while also being accountable on and off the field.
“The message, kind of in a nutshell, is that we are all in this thing together,” he said. “I have your back, you know, and we're going to support you, myself and my staff. It's not going to be easy, we're going to work really hard. We're going to have a culture of accountability, a sense of urgency, attention to detail, unselfishness. You know, relentless attitude, competition, and it's going to be worth it. It's going to be worth it.”
Following a 13-year run with Mark Dantonio at the help, the Spartans went through a week of uncertainty as they looked for a new head coach, which came with its fair share of well-documented ups and downs.
Following the press conference, Simmons spoke to reporters and said that after going roughly a week without a head coach, there was plenty of excitement when the team met their new head coach, but also noted that some uncertainty still remains as the players continue to become more familiar with Tucker.
“Excitement, but at the same time, it’s a sense of uncertainty because you don’t know exactly what he’s going to do, but you know he’s coming in with the right mindset and the right attitude and he wants to work,” he said. “It’s just how is he going to do it? But we’re all excited and we can’t wait to work with him.”
Tucker’s resume is one that speaks for itself as he’s been apart of two National Championships, the first coming in 2002 when he was the defensive coordinator at Ohio State under Jim Tressel and the second in 2015 at Alabama when he served as the defensive backs coach under Nick Saban.
Simmons said that he was obviously impressed with his new head coach’s track record and also said that he doesn’t need to see a resume to know that Tucker has what it takes to lead the Michigan State program after hearing him speak on Wednesday.
“He’s won National Championships, so he knows how to win,” he said. “He’s coached under some of the best coaches that college football has ever seen, so that’s big to have something like that on your resume. When he talks - I don’t need to see his resume to know he’s a good coach, I can sense it when he talks, I can feel it with everything he does.”
Stay tuned to Spartan Nation for all of the latest news on the Michigan State football program!
Tell us what you think in the comment section below.
Want the latest breaking MSU news delivered straight to your email for FREE? Sign up for the DAILY Spartan Nation newsletter when you CLICK THE MAGAZINE ICON at the top left of the page or the FOLLOW button back on the main page. Don’t miss any of the latest up to the second updates on Michigan State Sports when you follow on Twitter @HondoCarpenter & @JDeuceDullack