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.
While I am flattered to be considered for the HC job @MSU_football, I am committed to @CUBuffsFootball for #TheBuild of our program, its great athletes, coaches & supporters. #UnfinishedBusiness #GoBuffs
— Mel Tucker (@Coach_mtucker) February 8, 2020
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.
“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.
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.