Michigan State and Ohio State met as Top 10 opponents on Saturday in Columbus, but the 56-7 result on the field revealed just how far the Spartans still need to go to compete with the Buckeyes.
This is why MSU is putting together this 10-year, $95 million dollar contract extension proposal for Mel Tucker.
The university didn’t just throw that proposed deal together on a whim because of the success of one season. Tucker is set to get that pay boost because Michigan State thinks they have the guy that can help them close the gap with the top dog in the conference.
It’s already been reported that LSU is interested in Tucker for its head coaching vacancy, and with the likes of USC and Florida – which fired head coach Dan Mullen on Sunday – also amongst the schools looking for new coaches, the time is now for Michigan State to lock up Tucker long term.
The performance on Saturday was abysmal – there’s no reason to argue otherwise. But that result shouldn’t make anyone forget just how far ahead of schedule Tucker is in his rebuild in East Lansing.
Michigan State is 9-2 through 11 weeks of Year 2 under Tucker, and that’s something to be excited about. But there’s a lot of work left to do, and Tucker knows what it’s going to take for the Spartans to reach the next level.
“Recruiting is where we’re going to close the gap,” Tucker said following the game. “We need more depth. We need more guys that can win one-on-one. I think that’s obvious. I don’t think that’s news, actually, if anybody’s paying attention.”
He’s not bashing his current roster with that statement. He’s accepting and proclaiming the reality of the situation.
Michigan State needs more playmakers on both sides of the football. The Spartans have excellent players in Payton Thorne, Kenneth Walker III, Jalen Nailor, Jayden Reed and Xavier Henderson.
But besides Thorne, all of those guys were injured either before or during Saturday’s game, and Michigan State didn’t have the depth behind them to be competitive with the Buckeyes.
The Spartans’ secondary has struggled all season long. Michigan State, statistically, has the worst pass defense in college football. To say Ohio State exploited that weakness is the understatement of the year.
Tucker and his staff must identify high level defensive backs in the transfer portal and on the recruiting trail this offseason, and then find a way to get those guys to East Lansing.
“We’re going to have to recruit like crazy, like we’ve been doing,” Tucker said. “We’re going to continue to do that. We’re just going to be relentless in doing that. We’re built to recruit at a high level.”
Tucker has an excellent track record in recruiting. He’s recruited under some of the best college coaches in the sport. His experience coaching in the NFL will be a draw for potential prospects. He’s got the pedigree to attract the high level players he’ll need to turn Michigan State into an annual contender in the Big Ten Conference.
This is why Michigan State is offering Tucker a huge extension. If they don’t, some other program will, and the university will be left in the same boat it was in just 21 months ago.
Tucker knows the performance on Saturday wasn’t good enough. He’s not going to make excuses for it. He wants to find solutions for it.
“There’s going to be zero tolerance for any of the finger-pointing, excuse-making, things like that. Because that’s like a loser’s mentality,” he said. “That’s what frontrunners do.”
Tucker said he, his staff and his players will continue to improve in the final weeks of this season. The Spartans will host Penn State on Saturday, and then will have bowl preparation a game to close the year.
But there is no quick fix for what we witnessed on Saturday. That only gets fixed when Michigan State finds the pieces that can match up better with Ohio State on the football field.
That’s the task that lies in front of Tucker, and Michigan State’s confidence in their head coach to accomplish that task is why they’re set to offer him that massive extension.