It's Tucker Time! Michigan State lands Mel Tucker as head coach
SpartanMag.com has verified with a source close to the search committee and a source at the University of Colorado that Mel Tucker will be leaving Colorado to become the next football coach at Michigan State University.
Sources tell SpartanMag.com that the five-year contract will be slightly richer than the $25.5 million that was presented to Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell on Sunday. The contract is not signed, and other leg work still needed to be completed early Wednesday morning. His hiring is pending an approval vote by the Michigan State Board of Trustees, expected this week, possibly as soon as Wednesday.
Tucker, 48, will take over the Spartan program after spending one year as the head coach at Colorado.
Tucker served as the defensive coordinator at Georgia under Kirby Smart prior to taking the job at Colorado. Tucker worked as defensive coordinator of the Bulldogs for three seasons. Prior to that, he served as defensive backs coach on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama.
Tucker was on staff at Alabama when the Crimson Tide won the 2015 national championship.
Tucker has a reputation as a high level recruiter. He was tabbed as a Top 25 recruiter by Rivals.com in 2018.
Tucker also has to ties to Michigan State and former head coach Mark Dantonio.
Tucker served as a graduate assistant from 1997-98 at Michigan State under Dantonio when Dantonio was the defensive backs coach on Saban's staff. Tucker later worked under Dantonio as defensive backs coach at Ohio State when Dantonio was defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes under Jim Tressel.
Tucker went 5-7 in his only year at Colorado. The Buffalos had wins over Washington and Stanford during the final month of the Pac-12 season. Colorado beat Colorado State, Nebraska, and Arizona State in September.
A native of Cleveland, Tucker was a defensive back at Wisconsin (1990-94).
Tucker coached in the NFL for several years after leaving Ohio State. He was the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2008 and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2009-2012). Tucker spent five games as the interim head coach of the Jaguars after Jack Del Rio was fired in 2012.
After two years as the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears (2013-2014), Tucker returned to college football as the defensive backs coach at Alabama in 2015.
Tucker interviewed with Michigan State's search committee on Saturday in Colorado, but removed his name from consideration. Sources indicate that Tucker knew that Fickell was Michigan State's lead candidate. When Fickell declined Michigan State's job offer on Monday morning, the Spartan search committee, led by Athletic Director Bob Beekman, circled back and made a hard run at Tucker.
Tucker earned 2.4 million dollars during his first year at Colorado. Tucker's buyout dropped to $3 million on Dec. 31.
Tucker was a standout defensive back at Cleveland Heights High School before signing with Wisconsin in Barry Alvarez's first recruiting class in 1990.
Tucker and his wife JoEllyn have two sons, Joseph and Christian.
Jim Comparoni contributed to this report.