Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Michigan State invests hope into 25th hire, now it's on Tucker

February 13, 2020
<p>New head football coach Mel Tucker speaks at his introductory press conference at the Breslin Student Events Center on Feb. 12, 2020.</p>

New head football coach Mel Tucker speaks at his introductory press conference at the Breslin Student Events Center on Feb. 12, 2020.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

After MSU's Board of Trustees formally approved him Wednesday, newly-hired Michigan State football Head Coach Mel Tucker spoke at his official introduction at the Breslin Center.

And as athletic director Bill Beekman repeatedly emphasized “integrity” and MSU roots as factors in the hire, and men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo expressed genuine excitement for the move, it seemed the Spartans found their “fit.”

After originally declining the opportunity to interview for the MSU coaching vacancy, Tucker displayed that this feeling was mutual.

“It was apparent to me that I needed to be here,” Tucker said, tapping the podium with emphasis.

“Today I’m excited about Michigan State football because I love football here,” Tucker said in one of many ambiguous but rousing utterances throughout the presser.

When asked if he ever envisioned returning to MSU after his graduate assistant stint from 1997-98, Tucker reconsidered.

 “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.”

Tucker’s Michigan State, and perhaps more significantly, his “Big Ten” roots add to the myriad of reasons this hire fits the bill for MSU. Holding a strong recruiting reputation after last garnering the 35th ranked recruiting class in 2020 (Dantonio’s was 43rd), Tucker will also have an estimated $6.4 million to allot to potential assistants in a six-year deal, as MSU has reportedly reached out to Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow, according to Kentucky Sports Radio.

Izzo, as genuine as they come, cited Tucker’s background in approving the new hire.

“What makes me happy is that you have a Big Ten background,” Izzo said. “It was George Perles who brought me in and took me under his belt, because he was the old guy and I was the GA.”

For an athletic program as cohesive as MSU’s has been, with a strong relationship between its two revenue sport coaches, Izzo’s genuine approval was more than a desire — it was a necessity.

Tucker placed a strong emphasis on moral attributes as well, shifting focus to rising seniors’ futures.

“We need to graduate our players,” Tucker said. “We spent a significant amount of time talking about that ... we want to help you launch your career after football. My job is to help you get your first job.”

One of those seniors, linebacker Antjuan Simmons, spoke on behalf of the players, saying “We’re ready. We’re going to play for you.”

Izzo closed his remarks with a telling anecdote, and a vintage Izzo jest.

“There’s no place like this,” he said. “I had my chances to move and I had my chances to go places. I got married here. I’ve had my kids here. I’m going to get buried here. Hopefully you’re going to follow in my footsteps.”

It seems MSU has invested this hope into it’s 25th head football coach. Now it’s on Tucker.


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