Michigan State hires Mel Tucker after coach said he would stay at Colorado
Tucker only spent one season with the Buffaloes before making the move to the Big Ten
Mel Tucker has decided to leave Colorado and take over the Michigan State football program. The Buffaloes confirmed their coach's departure in a statement on Wednesday morning, and the Spartans announced Tucker's hiring in the afternoon.
"We are disappointed to see Coach Tucker leave," Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a statement. "We are excited about the upward trajectory of our football program and we'll get to work immediately hiring the next head coach to build on our momentum and lead our young men. We're confident this program is on the verge of competing at the highest level and has the resources and support in place to do so for a long time."
Assistant head coach Darrin Chiaverini has been named interim coach, replacing Tucker. Chiaverini first came to Colorado on Mike MacIntyre's staff in 2016 and was retained by Tucker. He played receiver for the Buffaloes from 1995 to 1998 and was a fifth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 1999 NFL Draft.
Tucker's move comes as Michigan State went back at the coach with a more significant offer just days after he reaffirmed his status with the Buffaloes, according to The Athletic's Bruce Feldman.
"While I am flattered to be considered for the [Michigan State coaching job], I am committed to [Colorado] for #TheBuild of our program, its great athletes, coaches & supporters. #UnfinishedBusiness #GoBuffs," Tucker tweeted on Feb. 8.
That tweet was sent when it looked like Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell was the front-runner for the Michigan State job that Fickell ultimately turned down to remain with his Bearcats program.
In making the move from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten, Tucker will see his Colorado salary ($2.7 million) and coaching salary pool ($3.15 million) double at Michigan State, according to Feldman. This is in addition to other resources the Spartans have promised to provide their new coach.
Tucker will succeed Mark Dantonio, who abruptly resigned earlier this month. Dantonio is Michigan State's all-time winningest coach and had led the program since 2007. Tucker began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Nick Saban at MSU from 1997-98.
Tucker finished 5-7 in his only season leading Colorado, his first head coaching job. He previously served as a long-time NFL defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears before joining Saban's staff at Alabama in 2015 and working as Georgia defensive coordinator from 2016-18. Tucker brings with him to Michigan State a pair of national championship rings as an assistant at Ohio State and Alabama.
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