Michigan State football makes Mel Tucker's gigantic new contract official

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  • Michigan State Spartans
    Michigan State Spartans
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  • Mel Tucker
    American football coach

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Tuck stayin'.

Multiple sources confirmed to the Free Press late Wednesday night that Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker signed his gigantic new deal.

The Free Press reported the two parties were nearing agreement on a 10-year, $95 million contract on Nov. 17. He is expected to become among the highest paid coaches in the sport. Alumni Mat Ishbia and Steve St. Andre are donating the money for Tucker's raise, though official contract details have not yet been released.

Head coach Mel Tucker of the Michigan State Spartans waits walks with his players to the field to play the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on Nov. 20, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio.
Head coach Mel Tucker of the Michigan State Spartans waits walks with his players to the field to play the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on Nov. 20, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio.

"Every day I wake up feeling humbled to be the Head Football Coach at Michigan State. It is my privilege to work alongside our student-athletes, coaches and staff who embody our culture of hard work, discipline, and excellence — on and off the field," Tucker said in a statement provided to the Free Press. "Thank you to our Board of Trustees, President Stanley and our administration, (athletic director) Alan Haller and the athletics staff, our incredible donors and fans — and of course Coach (Tom) Izzo for the support and resources you provide MSU to build Spartan football — we could not do it without you.

"The mentorship and friendship of Mat Ishbia, Steve St. Andre, Brian Mosallam and Jason Strayhorn — particularly during this process — has been invaluable to me. It is a process to build a championship-winning program. A process that drives us to be better. A process that demands relentless soul and grit. And a process that requires support from Spartans across the globe.

"I am honored to be a part of the Spartan process today, and for years to come."

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Tucker has the No. 13-ranked Spartans at 9-2, 6-2 in the Big Ten, after they were picked to finish last in the East Division before the season. They host Penn State on Saturday in the regular-season finale at Spartan Stadium (3:30 p.m., ABC).

Tucker's name came up in LSU and USC coaching rumors over the past month, likely playing a factor in the new contract happening in Year 2 on the job.

Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker on the sidelines during action against the Maryland Terrapins Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 at Spartan Stadium.
Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker on the sidelines during action against the Maryland Terrapins Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 at Spartan Stadium.

Tucker, who played at Wisconsin as a defensive back in the early 1990s and started his coaching career in 1997 at MSU under Saban, has quickly rebuilt the program after it fell stale in the final years under former coach Mark Dantonio, who retired suddenly in February 2020. A week later, and after MSU struck out on front-runner Luke Fickell, Tucker was whisked away from Colorado after a debut season of 5-7.

Tucker's coaching resume includes national championships as an assistant at Ohio State (2003) and Alabama (2015), and 10 years of NFL experience, including a 2–3 mark as interim head coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011.

One month into Tucker's new job at MSU in 2020, COVID-19 hit, derailing his attempts to establish himself at his new program. In October, MSU lost its opener in an ugly seven-turnover game vs. Rutgers, but a week later went to No. 14 Michigan as more than three-touchdown underdogs and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in rivalry history. MSU also knocked off No. 13 Northwestern, but finished the season 2-5.

Then, in his first normal offseason, Tucker dipped heavily into the transfer portal to rebuild the Spartans, bringing in numerous contributors, most notably likely Heisman Trophy candidate Kenneth Walker III.

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MSU's season began as good as it could have, with Walker scoring from 75 yards out on the season's first play at Northwestern, as the Spartans racked up impressive wins and some not-so-impressive wins en route to a 7-0 start and a date with undefeated Michigan on Oct. 30.

Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker on the sidelines during action against the Maryland Terrapins Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 at Spartan Stadium.
Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker on the sidelines during action against the Maryland Terrapins Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 at Spartan Stadium.

Again as underdogs, Tucker and the Spartans didn't flinch, and rallied from 16 points down in an instant classic to once again defeat Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines, 37-33 — as much as Harbaugh may still refuse to believe it.

The next week, MSU was steamrolled by Purdue, and two weeks later was trounced as a three-touchdown underdog by Ohio State.

COMMENTARY: Dantonio didn't leave MSU football barren. Tucker is proving it

No matter the tough finish to the regular season, this first "normal" season has already been a giant success under Tucker, and he and the university are reaping the rewards.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State makes Mel Tucker extension contract official