© 2022 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

MSU Lands Mel Tucker As 25th Head Football Coach

Mel Tucker addresses the public at his introductory press conference at the Breslin Center.

A week after the winningnest football coach in Michigan State history, Mark Dantonio, announced his retirment in the wake of alleged NCAA violations and a bruising season, Mel Tucker was officially named head coach of the MSU football team.

He received unanimous support from the Board of Trustees in a 7-0 vote, during a special meeting to confirm the hire. Tucker, 48, comes directly from the University of Colorado after just one season with the Buffs.

After the Board of Trustees meeting, Tucker spoke at the Breslin Center Wednesday night, opening up about his decision to come to MSU after seemingly turning down the job on Twitter last weekend.

To a crowded room of reporters and MSU athletics staff  Tucker confessed, “Leaving Colorado was probably—was actually the toughest thing that I have ever done in my—in my career, in my life, actually.”

He continued, “But this is—this is the right time for me to be here.”

Tucker also expressed admiration for his predecessor Mark Dantonio, who he’d work with previously early in his career.

Mel Tucker
Credit Mel Tucker poses with his family, all gifted 'Tucker 25' jerseys, which symbolize Tucker as the 25th MSU football coach in program history.

“I was here 1997-98 as a graduate assistant coach to Coach Dantonio with a secondary coach, and I left LSU with Nick Saban to work alongside Coach Dantonio at Ohio State for Jim Tressel, and I worked with him for three years there,” said Tucker.

He continued, “Obviously he is one of those great mentors that I've learned a lot from and he's helped shape some of my football philosophies and things like that." Dantonio himself was not present.

Last week, Tucker finalized the nation’s No. 34 ranked recruiting class, placing above Dantonio’s No. 43 class.

In addition to starting his career at Michigan State as a graduate assistant, Tucker was also part of the 2003 Ohio State University coach staff. He worked there alongside Dantonio and Luke Fickell, who turned down the MSU job on Monday morning according to sources familiar with the matter, serving as defensive backs coach.

Mel Tucker and Bill Beekman
MSU athletic director Bill Beekman gives an overview of the MSU football coaching search in front of the Board of Trustees. The board voted unanimously to officially make Mel Tucker the next MSU football head coach.

Tucker eventually became a co-defensive coordinator in 2004. He briefly departed college football to coach in the National Football League, first in a four-year stint as the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Then, he spent two years in the same position with the Chicago Bears.

From 2015-2018 Tucker returned to college football, serving as an assistant coach at the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia.

MSU will pay Tucker $5.6 million dollars per season, as part of a six-year contract.

Mel Tucker
MSU President Samuel L. Stanley endorses Mel Tucker as the next head coach of MSU football.

Al Martin is the host of Current Sports, the daily radio call-in program from WKAR NewsTalk. Al is also on the WKAR News team as a regular sports contributor and plays a key sports reporting and content role on all other WKAR media platforms.
Related Content
WKAR News coverage is made possible by supporters who value fact-based journalism. During the Fall Radio Fundraiser, you can help ensure more trustworthy reporting all year long for as little as $7 a month. DONATE NOW to do your part now to fund more local and national stories. Thank you.