Michigan State Scrambling Amid Luke Fickell Drama

Bruce Hooley

Monday began with Michigan State joyously anticipating a victory lap over the hiring of Luke Fickell and quickly transitioned into a day with all the joy of a Mark Dantonio press conference.

As reports circulated that Fickell was on his way from the University of Cincinnati to MSU, where he would replace Dantonio, social media postings indicated Fickell had reported to the UC football facility and then Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports broke the news that Fickell was staying with the Bearcats.

Fickell confirmed his decision to remain with the Bearcats shortly after 10:30 a.m.

Does that mean MSU has botched its search?

Maybe, and maybe not.

Fickell wouldn't be the first coach to say, no, when he really wanted to say, yes, but he'd rather have a bit more money or a bit stronger commitment financially to facilities or some other aspect of the program he's going to build.

Fickell had leverage when this process started, and he has even more now that he's apparently stalled Michigan State's pursuit of him.

Of course, every poker player knows you can bluff yourself out of a lucrative pot, and Fickell risks having the Spartans move on to or re-approach other candidates.

Mel Tucker, the head coach at Colorado, pulled out of consideration for the Michigan State job on Sunday.

The Spartans have several options:

  • Allow interim coach Mike Tressel, the nephew of Jim Tressel, to coach MSU this season and consider it an audition for the full-time position.
  • Hand Fickell everything he wants to get him to Lansing and thus save face for the program, which is rapidly suffering the embarrassment of not being able to attract a top coach.
  • Go with someone who's been a head coach that doesn't have a head coaching job now, like Bret Bielema, Butch Jones or Pat Shurmur.

Dantonio really put Michigan State in a bind with the timing of his resignation last week. He claimed at his farewell press conference that MSU would have a bevy of qualified candidates "run" to MSU.

Instead, it appears they're sprinting in the opposite direction.

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