If you want to fix Spartan Football then you need to fix the coaching staff

Spartan Football compiled another losing Big Ten season and the future is cloudy.

In 3 years, Mel Tucker’s cumulative Big Ten record is a dismal 12-13 and it would be fair to say, sweeping changes are needed if the Spartans hope to change course, yet we hear deafening silence from Mel Tucker.

I guess Mel Tucker is satisfied with the last 3 years?

A lot of folks say, “stay the course”, to which I say, “if you stay the course, you will scuttle the ship”, because Championship teams such as Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio State (to name a few) are getting better every day because they are committed to getting better in every facet, every day, and that means if Michigan State stays the course then championship teams will continue to widen the gap…and right now the gap is enormous.

Curiously, there are no overtones of Mel Tucker making coaching changes, and we have to ask, is MT totally satisfied with the last 3 years?

After all, the last 3 seasons were underscored by some of the most humbling statistics (metrics) in Spartan Football history and we can shine the spotlight on dreadful coaching:

  • 2020: Offense finished #100 or worse in 20 statistical categories including Total Offense #109…Scoring Offense #116…and Rush Offense #122 (or a meager 91 Yards per game).
  • 2022: Defense finished #100 or worse in 13 statistical categories including Rush Defense #102 (yielding 208 YPG in Big Ten competition) …Total Defense #104…and Pass Efficiency Defense #124.

Yet, that doesn’t mean all was well in 2021.

In spite of an 11-2 record in 2021, Defensive deficiencies were abundant and here is a short list: Total Defense #111…First Down Defense #127…Pass Defense #130 (dead last, yielding 325 YPG), and if KWIII wasn’t in the lineup to break tackles and keep the chains moving, then 2021 would have achieved the same result as losing campaigns in 2020 and 2021.

Let’s be honest, being ranked #100 or worse when measured against 130 D-1/FBS schools is as bad as it gets and it’s almost impossible to win a single game with the magnitude of statistical deficiencies over the past 3 seasons, and even the most casual observer would agree that sweeping coaching changes are needed to correct course.


While Mel Tucker stays the course, players and recruits are jumping ship!

The Transfer Portal opened on Dec 6 and to no one’s surprise the Spartans have already lost 8 players into the Transfer Portal, including 4 Defensive Linemen, two Receivers, and a Kicker.

Meanwhile, (as of Dec 13) 7 players have decommitted from the Spartans’ 2023 recruiting class and those defections have occurred just since November.

Moreover, the recruiting ranking has declined from a respectable #24 last summer to a dismal #49 as of Dec 13, and another losing season is the catalyst. Note: recruiting rankings are in flux until signing day on Dec 21, which means the Spartans are adding some, and losing some, but players being added are essentially 3-Stars (or unranked) and not regarded as top tier, championship caliber players.

Yet, here is a sobering thought: a team can’t compete for a Big Ten championship with a recruiting class ranked #40 or worse…yet #40 or worse is exactly where the 2023 recruiting class is poised to finish.

At present, this is the worst recruiting class since the deplorable transition year from John L Smith to Mark Dantonio more than 15 years ago.

Of course, early signing day is Dec 21, yet the likelihood of MT and staff acquiring a bounty of top ranked, championship caliber recruits in the next week is virtually nonexistent.

In fact, it’s more likely the Spartans #49 ranking will continue to fade.

As of Dec 13, there are only 10 players verbally committed to Michigan State which by all measures is a tiny class when we consider a normal recruiting class is about 22 to 26 recruits.

And while the Spartans have just 10 verbal commits late into the recruiting cycle, by comparison, Top ranked programs such as Alabama have 25…Georgia 23…Notre Dame 26…Texas 21…and within the Big Ten, Penn State has 21…Ohio State has 20…and Michigan has 18, and most of the verbal commits of the aforementioned programs are 4 & 5-Stars.

Of course, everyone celebrated MT’s 2022 recruiting class which was ranked a respectable #26 as a sign of good things to come, but if a team doesn’t win, then they don’t get to enjoy the spoils of a victor and MT has arguably lost the confidence of Top ranked recruits.


Transfers & decommits:

Of course, players transferring out and prospective recruits “decommitting” should come as no surprise because it is a manifestation of a losing program.

When a team with exceedingly high expectations such as Michigan State posts a losing season, finishes #10 in Big Ten and misses a Bowl Game for the second time in 3 seasons then recruits become skeptical.

Yet, Mel Tucker thinks he can still entice recruits with the promise of immediate playing time but that’s “fools gold” because unless a player is desperate to find a football home, then the promise of immediate playing time is meaningless if said program is unlikely to reach a Bowl game and Michigan State has missed 2 out of the last 3.

Let’s remember, every player on the current roster was told by Mel Tucker and his staff after the 2021 season that Michigan State was ready to compete for a National Title in 2022 (yet, let’s be honest, that promise was unrealistic).

Mel Tucker could have said and should have said to his players (in so many words) “…we are building a championship program and mounting the summit: it’s a tough climb, nothing comes easy, but we need your commitment to make the climb until we reach the summit however long it takes”.

Yet Mel Tucker promised his players they could reach the promised land in 2022, but disappointment quickly set in after a double digit loss to Washington in week #3, followed by 5 more double digit losses.

Consequently, posting a losing record and then missing a bowl game and sitting home over the holidays is not the romantic setting most players contemplated when the season commenced.

So, MT’s players are looking for better opportunities.


At the bottom line: traditional recruiting is still the most viable means of building a championship roster.

Good coaching and good players are still the foundation of championship football.

And traditional recruiting remains the single most viable aspect for building a championship roster, see Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio State etc, etc, etc.

It starts in the 10th grade with recruits being invited for summer camps (on campus) and continues for the next 2 summers. It also includes traditional campus visits, complemented by in home visits and concludes with Official recruiting visits during a Football weekend.

So after 3 years of “constant contact” there becomes a fundamental understanding between players, families, coaching staffs and administrators regarding character, fit, coachability and commitment.

After all, there must be mutual commitment.

Of course, everyone celebrated MT’s 2022 recruiting class whereby he went all over the lot to stitch together a respectable class ranked #26. Seemingly, it was a sign of good things to come (maybe MT had a magic wand).

But if a team doesn’t win consistently and if a team posts 2 losing seasons in 3 years, and misses two bowl games in 3 seasons, then Mel Tucker doesn’t get to enjoy the spoils of a victor.

Consequently, three years into his tenure, Mel Tucker still has not demonstrated he has established a viable and reliable recruiting pipeline, to the contrary MT seems to be “Spinning the Wheel of Fortune” and taking whichever recruit raises their hand.

So, it seems to me, Alan Haller has some major decisions to make, because the prospects of Mel Tucker competing for a Big Ten championship with his existing coaching staff is exceedingly unlikely,

So, will Mel Tucker make changes to his coaching staff or continue doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result?

If Mel Tucker is reticent to fire his assistant coaches, then will Alan Haller fire Mel Tucker?

If history is the best predictor of the future (and it is), then the future looks bleak when we double check the metrics over the past 3 seasons:

  • 2020: Offense finished #100 or worse in 20 statistical categories including Total Offense #109…Scoring Offense #116…and Rush Offense #122 (a meager 91 Yards per game).
  • 2021: Defense finished #100 or worse in “key” statistical categories, including: Total Defense #111…First Down Defense #127…Pass Defense #130 (dead last yielding 325 YPG)
  • 2022: Defense finished #100 or worse in 13 statistical categories including Rush Defense #102 (yielding 208 YPG in Big Ten competition) …Total Defense #104…and Pass Efficiency Defense #124.

Given the preceding stats, I would submit that MT needs to sweep with a broad broom his Defensive and Offensive Coaching staffs because they have proven to be incapable of coaching the fundamentals of football.

I would argue coaching changes should include:  Scottie Hazelton (D-Coordinator and Linebacker Coach); Marco Coleman (D-Line and Defensive Run Game Coordinator); Jay Johnson (Offensive Coordinator) and Chris Kapilovic (O-Line Coach and Offensive Run Game Coordinator).

Each of those coaches (save Coleman) are making $1 Million a year and yet none have demonstrated a positive return on investment. Moreover, I assure you, none of those coaches would be interviewed for jobs at Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State and/or Michigan to name just a few.

So, if those coaches wouldn’t be welcome at schools which consistently compete for Championships, then “why” are they employed by Mel Tucker?

Yet “firing” those coaches raises another question: is Mel Tucker capable of building a Championship caliber coaching staff? Would Championship caliber assistant coaches want to be on Mel Tucker’s staff?

But let’s make this clear, without a Championship caliber coaching staff, and without a proven track record of competing for Big Ten Championships, then championship caliber players are unlikely to play for Mel Tucker who has posted a miserable 12-13 Big Ten record in the past 3 seasons and missed 2 bowl games.

Yet, silence is deafening and it seems Mel Tucker is staying silent hoping to avoid scrutiny, but scrutiny will continue until MT proves he is capable of building a championship caliber organization, but is he up to the task?

So far, Mel Tucker hasn’t earned much of his prolific compensation

Thank you for reading, I hope you found this missive to be informative and I always welcome your comments and opinions!