Colorado’s Mel Tucker to become next MSU head coach

Joe Dandron and Eric Bach

EAST LANSING — Former Colorado head coach Mel Tucker will be the next head football coach at Michigan State, according to a report from The Athletic that came in early Wednesday morning.

The Athletic reports the deal that Tucker accepted will pay him at least $5.3 million per year, and it will double Tucker’s $3.2 million salary pool for assistant coaches to $6.4 million. There is also an increased budget for training staff.

The news comes shortly after Tucker had reportedly decided to not take the job. Tucker initially was reported to have spoken with MSU about the position, but he sent out a tweet on Saturday seemingly committing to staying at UC-Boulder.


Tucker, a native of Cleveland, was a graduate assistant at Michigan State back in 1997 under Nick Saban, and he then followed Saban to LSU in 2000 to be the defensive backs coach for the Tigers. He then joined Jim Tressel’s staff at Ohio State as the defensive backs coach in 2002 when they won the national championship. Former MSU head coach Mark Dantonio was the defensive coordinator of that Ohio State team.

When Dantonio left Ohio State to become the head coach at Cincinnati in 2003, Tucker was promoted to defensive coordinator at OSU for one season before leaving for the NFL, where he was the defensive coordinator for three different teams over 10 years. He then once again joined Saban, this time at Alabama, as the defensive backs coach and assistant head coach in 2015. Tucker was on the coaching staff at Alabama when the Crimson Tide beat Michigan State in the College Football Playoff semifinal en route to the 2015 national championship.

After that one season at Alabama, Tucker became the defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2016-18. In his three years as coordinator, his defenses never ranked lower than 16th nationally in total defense. He was then the head coach at Colorado this past season, posting a 5-7 record in his only season with the Buffaloes. Tucker recruited a top-35 class in his one season in Boulder.

“Mel brings a championship pedigree, NFL experience, connections to our region, success on the recruiting trail and head coaching experience to our program,” said MSU Athletic Director Bill Beekman in a statement. “Beyond his impressive list of credentials is an even more impactful leader of men with an energetic personality that will pay dividends on the recruiting trail. Perhaps more importantly, he’ll connect with our student-athletes to help them develop beyond just their skills on the football field. His attention to detail will leave no stone unturned in his drive for championships.”

Dantonio abruptly retired last week after 13 seasons with the Spartans, going 114-57 as head coach with a Rose Bowl win in 2014 and College Football Playoff appearance.

MSU is one of 11 programs to appear in the Playoff.

The hire is still pending approval from the MSU Board of Trustees, but Tucker will be officially introduced in a press conference at 6:30 PM at the Breslin Center.

For continued coverage of MSU football and MSU’s football coaching hire, follow @JosephDandronMI, @ebach21 and @WDBMSports on Twitter. Contact Joe and Eric at [email protected].