Tucker, one of several candidates to seemingly turn down Michigan State’s initial overtures, became the focus of the school’s search late Sunday and throughout Monday, sources said. On Saturday, he tweeted that that he remained committed to Colorado after speaking with MSU about its coaching vacancy.
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
A source said Tucker was very hesitant to leave Colorado after only one season as Buffaloes coach, and attended an event with Colorado donors on Monday night in Denver. But Michigan State offered more resources, beyond just annual salary. An official announcement could come later Tuesday.
The Athletic first reported MSU’s expected hire of Tucker.
The 48-year-old Tucker will replace Mark Dantonio, who announced his retirement last week after 13 seasons at Michigan State. Dantonio went 132-74, winning or sharing three Big Ten championships and reaching the College Football Playoff in 2015. He left as Michigan State’s all-time coaching wins leader, but also facing a lawsuit from former recruiting director Curtis Blackwell, who alleges Dantonio committed multiple NCAA violations.
Michigan State interviewed Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Sunday, but Fickell decided early Monday to remain with the Bearcats. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, a longtime Michigan State assistant under Dantonio, also opted to remain in his job. San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, a former MSU assistant, and Iowa State coach Matt Campbell also declined to pursue the Spartans job.
Tucker, a Cleveland native who played defensive back at Wisconsin, began his coaching career at Michigan State as a graduate assistant for Nick Saban in 1997. He was a defensive coordinator for three NFL teams and served as the Jacksonville Jaguars interim head coach in 2011, going 2-3. Tucker worked alongside Dantonio at Ohio State from 2001 to 2003 and held coordinator jobs at Ohio State and Georgia before landing his first head-coaching opportunity at Colorado. He went 5-7 last season and last week finalized the nation’s No. 34 recruiting class, according to ESPN.