- The Michigan State Spartans are currently +25000 to win the 2021 National Championship
- Mel Tucker has officially been hired as the program’s 25th head coach as of Wednesday afternoon
- Can Tucker revitalize a stale program and get Michigan State back into the Big 10 & National title picture?
Mel Tucker is set to replace Mark Dantonio as the new head football coach at Michigan State. Tucker comes over from Colorado, where he coached for just one season, going 5-7 in 2019.
Tucker was not on the original list of coaching candidates, and I was certainly off with my prediction thinking the all-mighty Michigan State would hire a coach from the MAC.
That being said, in the CFP National Championship odds Michigan State is still a massive underdog. As the +25000 odds show you, Tucker has a lot of work to do before the fans can think playoff appearance in East Lansing.
2021 CFP National Championship Odds
Odds taken February 12th
Mel Tucker led the Colorado Buffaloes to a 5-7 record this past season. The Cleveland, Ohio native started his coaching career as a graduate assistant in East Lansing in 1997 on Nick Saban’s staff.
Tucker went on to coach in defensive roles at LSU, Ohio State, Georgia, and Alabama. He also spent 10 seasons in the NFL, mainly as a defensive coordinator.
This news came as a little bit of a surprise as Tucker tweeted out last week that he would be staying in Boulder after he was originally considered for the Michigan State job:
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
Safe to say that Mel Tucker’s defensive-minded coaching style did not work well in the Pac-12. The Big Ten fits Tucker’s style, but his opponents will be tougher as they play Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Minnesota in conference play.
Expectations for Tucker’s first year should be low, especially with the team he has.
Tucker is not coming into the easiest situation as Michigan State’s new head coach. He has big shoes to fill as Dantonio’s replacement, and he does not necessarily have the greatest weapons to work with.
Three-year starting quarterback Brian Lewerke will not be in East Lansing next season. Imagine coming in as the new head coach and your most experienced quarterback is Rocky Lombardi?
Lewerke threw for over 3,000 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions last season and he’s not the only departing starter on the offensive side of the ball.
The Spartans will be losing their top two targets through the air in Cody White and Darrell Stewart Jr. These two receivers combined for over 1,600 yards, 115 catches, and 10 touchdowns. White has declared for the NFL Draft, while Stewart Jr. has finished his last year of eligibility with the Spartans.
The defensive side of the ball is where it gets ugly for Tucker. Michigan State will be losing eight defensive starters this offseason. One of the more notable losses is defensive end Kenny Willekes, who posted 10.5 sacks last season.
The Spartans defense was solid last season, allowing just 22.5 points per game in a tough conference. Tucker will be lucky enough to have linebacker Antjuan Simmons returning for his senior season. Simmons led the team with 90 tackles and was a key leader in their defensive core.
2020 Recruiting Class & Expectations
Michigan State’s recruiting was a tough process to watch this year. For the first time in a while, the Spartans did not pull in a single four-star recruit.
According to 247Sports, they have the 43rd nationally ranked recruiting class and the 10th ranked recruiting class in the Big Ten and were only ranked above Northwestern, Indiana, Rutgers, and Illinois.
The top-rated player in Michigan State's 2020 recruiting class is No. 400 overall player in the country.
— Ari Wasserman (@AriWasserman) December 18, 2019
The one positive note is that they recruited 11 defensive players. Darius Snow and Devin Hightower are a pair of outside linebackers that could have an immediate impact in the defensive rotation.
Like I’ve said many times, Tucker has not been given the appropriate tools to succeed. This will be a rebuilding year for Michigan State while Tucker tries to get acquainted with East Lansing.
Looking at Michigan State’s Big Ten schedule, they will host Michigan, Ohio State, and Minnesota. Their tough road games will include Penn State and Iowa. They also have a home game against a D’Eriq King led Miami team.
The 7-6 mark that the Spartans achieved last season will be far out of reach in 2020, and this team won’t be worth betting on until win totals are released later in the spring.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.