Mel Tucker hot take #3

Dennis Dodd misses the mark.

Michigan State is paying a lot with no guarantees. Michigan State was desperate. It has always been a program that punched above its weight. Mark Dantonio had made a reputation coaching up three-stars, developing walk-ons and beating Michigan in eight of 13 meetings.

After the resignation of Dantonio, the Spartans had been turned down by Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell with others like Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi publicly declining interest. That makes Tucker a second choice, at best, and one the Spartans absolutely had to land.

Before taking Colorado, Tucker was regarded as one of the best assistants in the country. His former bosses include Nick Saban, Kirby Smart and Jim Tressel. His resume includes 10 years as an NFL assistant, most as a defensive coordinator.

But we don’t know what kind of head coach he’ll be — not yet, at least. For its $5.4 million, Michigan State is getting a coach who was 5-7 in his debut season at Colorado.

That $5.4 million puts Tucker right outside the top 10 highest-paid list, according to USA Today’s coaching salaries database. He will make more than Northwestern‘s Pat Fitzgerald, largely considered to be one of the country’s best coaches.

Fair? Nothing seems fair in college athletics these days. Michigan State had to overpay.

Was MSU desperate?  After Fickell spurned the Spartans, that’s a fair interpretation.  Did Michigan State overpay?  From Colorado’s point of view, certainly, but MSU got its man and stopped the bleeding at a price it could easily afford to pay.  What Dodd is saying is akin to criticizing someone for paying for a Rolex when a $20 Casio could tell time equally well.

The real issue here is that it still hasn’t completely sunk in how much money is flowing into the upper tier of college athletics, with lots more to come.  And when you’re a non-profit that has to put the money to some use, well… that’s how Mel Tucker winds up becoming the most fortunate of men.

Perhaps the SEC needs to drop the “it just means more” slogan and adopt something more in sync with the times.


Filed under College Football

8 responses to “Mel Tucker hot take #3

  1. CannonDawg

    Perhaps a new slogan (adapted from comedian Jackie Mason): “Money is not the most important thing to the SEC. Love is. Fortunately, the SEC loves money.”


  2. David H.

    I think Dodd’s point is that (at least in terms of Tucker’s head coach credentials), MSU may have paid a Rolex price for a Timex product.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Go Dawgs!

    Just because you’ve got the money to foot the bill doesn’t mean you didn’t overpay. Michigan State got a man, I’m not sure that it got “its man.” Mel wasn’t their first choice, and he’d already turned them down once. They threw somewhere in the neighborhood of $5.2-$5.5 million at him to get him to come. There are any number of up and coming head coaches at the lower levels of the sport or experienced coordinators at the top level ready to make the jump that they could have at a fifth of that price for at least the first year or two of their tenure. Hell, Mel Tucker is still basically an experienced coordinator, just with one year of experience as a head coach to go with it.
    Michigan State didn’t hire him based on his record as a head coach at Colorado, they hired him for, his promise as a head coach based on his success as a coordinator. Go get someone else that might be the next great thing instead of paying a Mel Tucker $5 million. The problem with him getting that much money with no record to justify it is that it’s going to trigger another round of spiraling out of control of the salaries for the coaches who ARE established. I’m sure Butts-Mehre wasn’t happy to see it. Michigan State should have gone out and hired the head coach at [insert name of whoever won the D-II title last year] before they gave that much money to a 5-7 head coach.

    But I really like Mel Tucker and appreciate all the work he did in Athens, so congratulations to him. I’m happy for him that he got paid. Don’t blame him one bit for going. It’s not his fault that the MSU AD is a moron.


  4. DawgByte

    Senator – I’ve never seen anyone so rapidly obsessed with $ in college sports (Football to be more exact, because you could care less about the other sports), as well as your sociopath attitudes towards anyone in a position of authority. The fact you have devoted 3 separate posts to MSU’s hiring of Mel Tucker illustrates my point to a T.

    I’m fairly certain there are counselors and medication that can assist you in getting over this affliction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Senator – I’ve never seen anyone so rapidly obsessed with $ in college sports (Football to be more exact, because you could care less about the other sports), as well as your sociopath attitudes towards anyone in a position of authority.


      Seriously, what does that even mean?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Macallanlover

    No one, including Dodd, knows if Tucker is better than Fickell, Narduzzi, or Fitzgerald, as a HC yet. He had a lot of love coming from the CU players and recruits, he was doing one of the job’s primary requirements pretty well.

    Michigan State is right to pay a preferred candidate an above average salary, going el cheapo didn’t work for them, and they can afford what it takes to get their man. Better spending the money this way than what other programs are getting for their cash. This isn’t Walmart where the price tag is more important than your evaluation of quality is. I don’t think they can afford to slip any further down the pecking order to save a few hundred thousand dollars given their economics.

    I suspect they offered one of the other candidates $6MM, or more, so paying Tucker less than that is getting a bargain. If they made a good decision in Tucker, this will be a steal. If he flops, they join a long list of people who paid too much. But they can afford to make a mistake. We all regret many of our purchase decisions (cars, restaurants, vacation destinations, etc.), it just costs a little more for MSU, but they may gain a lot from it in the next several years. Think positive MSU, it isn’t your own money, and Dodd isn’t usually right on many of his calls anyway.


    • Down Island Way

      Was going to comment that the previous hc’s salary was more than Coach Tucker”s current contract…which left me with the thought that Coach Tucker would be gone in a few years (no matter the record for the new hc msu wants), but given the 1 million $$$$ increase says to me, the ad was going to spend no matter how far down the search committee list it went….the coaching community thanks Coach Tucker and all their brethren for their lack of public communication skills and the ad’s that offer some serious bank


  6. Ron Olson

    I never will hold anything against anyone for trying to better themselves BUT I less than honest way Mel Tucker handled this with Colorado was spineless and cowardly