HEAD COACH HUNT: MSU announces new head football coach; students eager for change

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EAST LANSING, MI. (WILX) -- Michigan State University announced on Wednesday afternoon, Mel Tucker, as the new coach of their football team.

“Mel Tucker has a strong reputation as an intense and dynamic coach and we’re excited to have him bring that energy to MSU,” said Michigan State President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr, M.D. “Leading our football program on the field and in their development as student-athletes is no small task and we are confident he is the right person for the job. We look forward to having Coach Tucker join our Spartan family.”

The Board of Trustees met Tuesday, voting to unanimously hire Mel Tucker as the new coach. At this time, the details of his contract are not being released.

“It brings me great pleasure to welcome Mel Tucker to the Spartan family as the 25th head coach in Michigan State football history,” Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman said. “Mel brings a championship pedigree, NFL experience, connections to our region, success on the recruiting trail and head coaching experience to our program. 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."

Tucker spoke at a press conference held by MSU following that meeting at 6:30 p.m.

“It is a blessing and honor to return to Michigan State University where I began my coaching career with Nick Saban,” said Tucker. “Thank you to President Stanley, Athletic Director Beekman and the Board of Trustees for the trust that you have placed in me to lead one of the finest football programs in the nation."

MSU says that Tucker’s resume, which began as a graduate assistant at Michigan State under Saban, has an impressive track record of success.

He has spent his time away from East Lansing in a head coaching position at the University of Colorado (2019), five seasons as a defensive coach in the Southeastern Conference (2000; 2015-18), 10 seasons in the NFL (2005-14), and four seasons at Ohio State (2001-04). Also, he spent some time in the NFL as a defensive coordinator for seven seasons and 11 seasons overall in his coaching career.

“Returning home to Michigan State is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and my family but it created the toughest decision of my life – to leave Colorado. There is no way to fully express my gratitude to the Buffalo student-athletes, Rick George, and our staff. I am incredibly thankful for our time together and I will always believe in Colorado football."

As Tucker gears up to lead Michigan State's football program, students told News 10 they are embracing the change.

"We needed a change. I mean I love Dantonio. I've been a Spartan fan my whole life. I've had a lot of great memories, but the last two seasons have been kind of shaky so you kind of got the feeling there needs to do some changes," said Cameron Barghahn, an MSU senior.

MSU football has taken a major hit and the past few years. In 2016, the team's overall record was 3 and 9. The following year, the team brought home a great season with 10 wins, but in 2019 and 2019, the team's record was 7 and 6, scores a Big Ten school definitely doesn't want to see.

"Just to get our football program up and running again and really start winning games. It was really depressing to go last year and just lose," said Shayna Pearlman, MSU sophomore. "I hope we beat Michigan and that we have a good record. I don't know, get some new creative ideas on offense, get that turned around. You know, as long as I see the potential on the field I don't necessarily need like a Rose Bowl or a Big Ten championship. I'm not going to get my expectations that high."

Students say they are open-minded to change.

"I think it's really exciting because I don't know what to expect and so it'll just be interesting to see how that coach navigates how to deal with our players and like how they cultivate a team together."

Tucker is from Cleveland, Ohio and went to the University of Wisconsin.

“Today, I am excited to get to work for the Spartans. Together, we will be relentless to create an integrity-filled and winning culture for our staff, coaches and student-athletes in everything we do – on and off the field.”

Here are some important facts and stats on Mel Tucker that MSU put together called: The Tucker File:
BORN: Jan. 4, 1972
WIFE: JoEllyn
CHILDREN: Joseph and Christian
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in agricultural business management from Wisconsin in 1995.
PLAYING EXPERIENCE: Four-year letterwinner as a defensive back at Wisconsin (1990-94).

PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE:
Graduate assistant at Michigan State (1997-98)
Defensive backs at Miami-Ohio (1999)
Defensive backs at LSU (2000)
Defensive backs at Ohio State (2001-03)
Co-defensive coordinator/defensive backs at Ohio State (2004)
Defensive backs with Cleveland Browns (2005-07)
Defensive coordinator with Cleveland Browns (2008)
Defensive coordinator/secondary with Jacksonville Jaguars (2009)
Defensive coordinator with Jacksonville Jaguars (2010-11)
Interim head coach with Jacksonville Jaguars (2011)
Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator with Jacksonville Jaguars (2012)
Defensive coordinator with Chicago Bears (2013-14)
Assistant head coach/defensive backs at Alabama (2015)
Defensive coordinator/secondary at Georgia (2016-18)

HEAD COACHING RECORD: 5-7 (.417) in one season as head coach at Colorado (2019).

POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Coach: 2000 Peach, 2002 Outback, 2003 Fiesta/BCS National Championship, 2004 Fiesta, 2004 Alamo, 2015 Cotton/CFP Semifinal, 2016 CFP/National Championship, 2016 Liberty, 2018 Rose/CFP Semifinal, 2018 CFP/National Championship). Player: 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl.

TUCKER’S CAREER RECORD – ASSISTANT COACH IN COLLEGE
Year School Record Postseason/Bowl National Ranking
1999 Miami-Ohio 7-4 - -
2000 LSU 8-4 Peach Bowl (W, Georgia Tech) 22/-
2001 Ohio State 7-5 Outback Bowl (L, South Carolina) -
2002 Ohio State 14-0 BCS National Champ. (W, Miami) 1/1
2003 Ohio State 11-2 Fiesta (W, Kansas State) 4/4
2004 Ohio State 8-4 Alamo (W, Oklahoma State) 20/19
2015 Alabama 14-1 CFP Semifinal (W, Michigan State) 1/1
CFP National Champ. (W, Clemson)
2016 Georgia 8-5 Liberty Bowl (W, TCU) -
2017 Georgia 13-2 CFP Semifinal (W, Oklahoma) 2/2
CFP National Champ. (L, Alabama)
2018 Georgia 11-3* Sugar Bowl* 7/7
Totals 10 seasons 101-29 (.777) 10 bowl games (8-2)
*Did not coach Georgia in 2019 Sugar Bowl

NFL FIRST ROUNDERS: Tucker has coached five NFL first-round draft picks along with recruiting four others. COACHED (5): CB Chris Gamble (Ohio State; No. 28 overall pick by Carolina, 2004 Draft); CB Donte Whitner (Ohio State; No. 6, Buffalo, 2006); CB Marlon Humphrey (Alabama; No. 16, Baltimore, 2017); S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama; No. 11, Miami, 2018); LB Roquan Smith (Georgia; No. 8, Chicago, 2018). RECRUITED (4): WR Ted Ginn, Jr. (Ohio State; No. 9, Miami, 2007); WR Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio State; No. 32, Indianapolis, 2007); CB Vernon Gholston (Ohio State; No. 6, N.Y. Jets, 2008); CB/S Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State; No. 14, New Orleans, 2009).

Read MSU's full statement here.

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