Give credit where it’s due, Washington and Minnesota had great game plans against Michigan State. They were more physical, sound on both sides of the ball and dominated from start to finish.
So where does Michigan State and head coach Mel Tucker go from here?
The momentum from last season has started to fade, and the wind has been taken out of the Spartans’ sails with a second consecutive loss. The “complementary football” that Tucker refers to so often has not shown up in the previous two games.
While there is a lot of blame to go around, it is still a team game, and MSU is not playing like a team that is on the same page.
Yesterday’s game against Minnesota may have been the most important game of Tucker’s tenure so far, and it resulted in a lop-sided loss. Say what you will about the head coach’s annual salary of $9.5 million, but it has raised expectations for this program and fans have started to get restless with the poor play.
Last year, no one expected MSU to be as good as they were. Now, expectations are heightened, with aspirations of winning the Big Ten championship. The recruiting momentum Michigan State experienced this offseason was the best in program history. The Spartans hosted visits for more blue chip recruits than almost any other program in the country.
Michigan State’s preseason goals – win every game on our schedule, win a Big Ten championship, win a national championship – are all out the window as early as September.
A recruiting class that was once in the Top 5 in the country, is now 22nd (via 247Sports). With only three commitments since August, and with the program not in the hunt for many blue chip recruits in what’s left of the 2023 cycle, expectations have tampered.
After two consecutive losses, some fans are starting to lose faith. Everyone has their own opinion on social media about what the problem is. Fans booed during the game at Spartan Stadium yesterday.
Whether players admit it or not, it hurts a team’s demeanor to here the home crowd voice their displeasure. Any recruits who took visits yesterday will also take note of that. Even former players have been vocal about the team’s issues.
Again, looking at Tucker’s contract, people are questioning if he’s still worth paying $95 million over 10 years. I still believe he is. He’s still in Year 3, and the extension was a result of a great season during the largest coaching carousel in college football history.
If another program had thrown a ton of money at Tucker and he had left after two years in East Lansing, it would have been extremely difficult for Alan Haller – a brand new athletic director at the time – to find a new, suitable coach.
I don’t think any fan would want to change anything from Michigan State’s 2021 season, but if the Spartans had been a six or seven win team last season, without wins against Michigan or Penn State, there maybe wouldn’t be as much backlash now after a slow start in 2022.
With a brutal schedule coming up, a win against Maryland next week is badly needed to stop the bleeding. This team is still rebuilding. Half the starters are still Mark Dantonio-era recruits. But, fans aren’t patient. They want results now.
Michigan State goes against another air raid offense this week. It’s another opportunity to figure out the root of the issues and solve some of these problems that the program has.