Sep 2, 2022 - Sports

Mel Tucker steals the show

Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker

Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker. Photo: Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Cigar-smoking Mel Tucker might just be the coolest college football coach in all of the land.

The intrigue: Michigan State's third-year coach is drawing national attention to the program through flashy recruiting tactics that involve riding in slingshot roadsters and a top notch visuals department.

  • "We recruit nationally, so anything we can do on social media to sell our program, we're going to do it," he told the Associated Press.

Between the lines: Tucker worked his way up from making $400/month as a graduate assistant at MSU under Nick Saban in 1997 to now being the highest-paid Black coach in sports.

  • Tucker, who landed a 10 year, $95 million contract last year, spoke to the AP about the ways Black coaches face greater challenges while climbing the coaching ladder.
  • "My dad can't make a call," Tucker said. "Obviously it's not what you know, it's who you know — it is what it is."

What we're watching: Tucker's Spartans host Western Michigan University tonight at 7pm in East Lansing for the season opener.

  • WMU's offensive coordinator, Jeff Thorne, is the father of starting Spartan quarterback Payton Thorne.

Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines are dealing with a quarterback battle in Ann Arbor.

  • 2021 starter Cade McNamara was named the starter for the season opener against Colorado State (noon tomorrow on ABC), while J.J. McCarthy is the Week 2 starter against Hawaii.

💭 Sam's thought bubble: Tucker has single- handedly sparked my renewed interest in college football, which I haven't felt since Western Michigan's P.J. Fleck days.

💭 Joe's thought bubble: I'm weary of college coach worship (hello, Coach K), but I can't help loving Tucker. MSU's tenacity last season seemed like a direct reflection of his influence.

  • His pregame speech before last season's U of M game — goosebumps.
  • And yes, I went to MSU.

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