Monday, August 2, 2021

A timeline of Mel Tucker's busy first week as Spartan football's new head coach

From hiring new coaches to puck drops, Tucker has done a lot in his first week in office

February 19, 2020
<p>New MSU football Head Coach Mel Tucker enters the Breslin Student Events Center during an airing of ESPN’s College GameDay on Feb. 15, 2020. </p>

New MSU football Head Coach Mel Tucker enters the Breslin Student Events Center during an airing of ESPN’s College GameDay on Feb. 15, 2020.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

Mel Tucker took the mantle as the Spartans' 25th football coach one week ago, on Feb. 12 and has already made a splash with the football team and the university. In his first week he has done everything from clearing out the Spartans' coaching staff to participating in an honorary puck drop at the Michigan State hockey game. This is a timeline of Tucker's busy first week at MSU.

Feb. 12 – Mel Tucker is officially hired and formally introduced

Last Wednesday, Tucker flew in from Colorado and attended the Board of Trustees meeting. He was unanimously approved to be the Spartans' 25th coach.

Following the meeting, Tucker was formally introduced at the Breslin Center. At the podium Tucker said he dreamed of being the Spartans' head man when he began his coaching career in East Lansing in 1997 as a graduate assistant under former MSU coach Nick Saban.

“I hoped,” Tucker said. “My dream was to come back here and be the head coach. When you work for a guy like Nick Saban, you can’t help but aspire to be in that position one day.”

At the press conference Tucker received support from the Spartan community, ranging from Spartan basketball Head Coach Tom Izzo to his new players. Senior linebacker Antjuan Simmons spoke on the players' behalf, welcoming Tucker to the family.

“We’re ready. We’re going to play for you," Simmons said.

Feb. 14 – Tucker attends Michigan State hockey game for honorary puck drop

As Tucker was making moves for his football team, he found time to attend Spartan hockey's game against Michigan.

Sporting a No. 25 jersey, Tucker made his way onto the ice to cheers from a sold-out Munn Ice Arena.

From there he participated in a ceremony, welcoming him to Spartan athletics.

Feb. 15 – College GameDay appearance and halftime speech

He kept his welcome week going the next day, as he paid a visit to ESPN's College GameDay, who were at the Breslin Center as the Spartans men's basketball team hosted No. 9 Maryland.

Tucker ran out and shot T-shirts from the T-shirt cannon.

Later that night the Spartan coach would turn up at the Breslin Center again. Now wearing a throwback jersey honoring the 20th anniversary of the 2000 national championship team, Tucker addressed the ecstatic crowd.

"I can promise you one thing, our football team will be relentless," Tucker said.

Feb. 15 – Tucker retains Mike Tressel and Ron Burton

In between appearances, Tucker was still working on his staff. He was able to add back both last season's defensive coordinator Mike Tressel in an unspecified role and defensive tackle coach Ron Burton, in the same position, to the Spartans' staff.

Tressel spent 13 seasons under Dantonio as linebacker coach, special teams coach, defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

As a defensive coordinator In 2014, Tressel led the No. 1 rushing defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS, and did so again in 2018.

Ron Burton was reportedly headed to Indiana, but had a change of heart and was officially announced as a member of Tucker's staff going forward.

"Great recruiters. Great coaches. Great family men," Tucker said of his two assistants via Twitter.

Feb. 17 – Jordon Simmons signs

Simmons, a three-star running back from Georgia was the last of Dantonio's initial 2020 recruiting class who hadn't signed.

After committing to Michigan State in October, he delayed his signing on Feb. 4, after Dantonio stepped down.

"Due to the unforeseen retirement of Coach Dantonio and after discussing things with my family, I have decided to delay my signing with Michigan State University until further notice," Simmons said in a letter via his twitter.

Tucker, who had recruited Simmons in his one season as coach at Colorado, got Simmons' signature on Feb. 17.

Feb. 17 – Tucker signs two of his former staff from Colorado

When it rains, it pours. That statement holds true for the Colorado coaching staff, as Tucker added his former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson and offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic.

Johnson has spent 25 seasons as an offensive coach with experience around the FBS, with past experience at Minnesota and Georgia. In his one season with Colorado, he turned the Buffaloes into an 83rd ranked total offense.

Kapilovic's offensive line in Boulder improved from a PAC-12 worst to 54th in the nation. He has improved several other offensive lines during his time in college football.

Tucker scored in retaining the offensive line-guru as he was offered the same position Auburn and Missouri.

Feb. 18 – Celebrating his son's birthdays and quick time for reflection

Adding on to his busy week, Tucker had two birthdays to plan for. As his first week wound down, he was able to celebrate with his son's Christian and Joseph.


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