EAST LANSING – A little over a year ago, Mel Tucker walked past a small crowd in the Breslin Center and took center stage to talk about becoming Michigan State's new head football coach.
"When I walked in; when we walked in today, I felt something different. I felt something special. I felt there was an energy; there was a vibe. It was a positive environment that's conducive to reaching your full potential. I think environment and expectations are two main factors in becoming successful," Tucker said that day. "The environment here is tremendous with the support. Everyone is supporting one another, and the expectations, like we talked about earlier, have always been high ... This is truly one of the great coaching opportunities in football."
Over 14 months later, Tucker's culture and vision for the program have set in.
He's made changes he feels will benefit the Spartans in the long run. He's taken lessons he learned at Alabama, Georgia, and in the NFL to East Lansing.
Tucker's past experiences and staffs' have helped shape his beliefs as a coach himself.
In year one without a traditional spring or fall camp, Tucker took down two ranked opponents in Michigan and Northwestern on his way to a 2-5 finish.
As the former MSU graduate assistant approaches his first spring game on April 24, Spartan Nation brought in college football analyst Jim Mora Jr. to evaluate Tucker's first season.
In a short amount of time, he was expected to hire an entirely new staff (outside of Ron Burton and Mike Tressel), install different offensive and defensive schemes using Zoom, and prepare for a season he didn't know would kickoff.
"I think this was a tough year," said Mora Jr. "You're a first-year head coach in a pandemic year. You don't get a spring; you get a discombobulated summer; you can't meet with your players. So, I think that personal impact that Mel will have because of his personality, his background, and just the way he carries himself ... as he goes through his tenure at Michigan State, he'll be one of those guys; he'll stay there forever."
Despite Tucker's overall record as a head coach, professional or otherwise, Mora Jr. sees a bright future for him and his Spartans.
"When you've been around coaches, you recognize the good ones, and he's one of the good ones. He's a guy that his players are going to respect and respond to. He's going to instill discipline ... toughness, and accountability. He's going to demand that they are fundamentally sound. His kids are going to graduate," Mora Jr. said. "I think it's just a matter of time before his imprint on Michigan State becomes very apparent."
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