It will take a Blue-Ribbon Search Committee to entice an elite coach to work amidst Michigan State chaos.

The Spartans got pummeled by #2 Michigan 49-0 last Saturday night, and it was simply the latest in what has become a weekly prime-time humiliation.

Michigan, the team Spartan fans “love to hate”, posted 477 Yards (357 in the air) at nearly 13 yards per completion; posted 28 points in the 1st Half, and then posted 21 points in 2nd Half to systematically and methodically beat down the Spartans on national TV.

By the end of the first half, only fans wearing Maize & Blue remained to at Spartan Stadium.

For Michigan there were no heroics, it was simply methodical execution as if they were flying on Auto Pilot.

For the Spartans it was yet another game of dysfunction and utter confusion whereby they demonstrated their ineptness in almost every phase and at almost every turn.

The Spartans rushed for a meager 49 yards at just 1.7 Yards per.

And in the game of giving away more than you gain, the Spartans lost 14 Yards in Sacks and 30 Yards via Tackles for Loss (TFL’s) compounded by 102 Yards in Penalties.

Yet, “Sacks” and “Tackles for Loss” underscore that Chris Kapilovic (O-Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator) has defined himself as amongst the worst coordinators and position coaches in Big Ten history.

In 3 out of 4 years, the Rush Offense overseen by Kapilovic has finished #12 or worse amongst just 14 Big Ten teams and yet he is being compensated more than $1 M per year?

Yet, Michigan State has an entire staff of overpaid assistant coaches and coordinators.

Let’s note, the Spartans Pass Defense heretofore coached from 2021 to 2023 by Mel Tucker and Harlon Barnett has consecutively ranked #14, #13 and #13 when measured in Big Ten competition, including the fact it was ranked “dead ass last” amongst 130 FBS schools in 2021.

Think about that?

Does anyone at Michigan State work through issues of incentive-based compensation when crafting an employment contract?

Alan Haller, what say you?

If incentive-based compensation was part of the employment calculus, then we can all agree that virtually every coach is exceedingly overpaid.


The worst loss in Spartan Stadium history.

When the game clocked ticked zero, it was the Spartans worst loss to Michigan at Spartan Stadium in its 100-year history.

In fact, it was also the worst loss to Michigan in the modern era of college football.

Thank you, Mel Tucker and staff!

In a quick look back at history, the Spartans lost 42-0 at Spartan Stadium in 1983, and in other lop-sided losses, the Spartans lost 49-3 at Michigan in 2002, and the Spartans lost 44-10 at Michigan in 2019.

But the 49-0 beat down at Spartan Stadium last weekend was emphatic and complete and it was served up to a National TV audience for consumption.

You must go all the way back to 1902, when Michigan beat the Spartans 119-0 in Ann Arbor to find a more decisive and lop-sided score, but the 49-0 loss was the worst at Spartan Stadium.

In 60 minutes of football, Michigan made Michigan State look futile and inept, or we can look at it from a more proper perspective and say “Michigan State made Michigan State” look futile and inept.

Simply stated, this is a horribly coached football team!

And let’s point this out, Harlon Barnett is a liability on the sidelines and it’s hard to determine “why” he wears a headset. In fact, I would argue Spartan football wouldn’t be any worse if it were playing for a Player/Coach who gets paid zero.

But I digress: the Spartans eked out 182 yards of Total Offense, including just 49 Yards Rushing at 1.7 Yards per attempt.

Overall, the Michigan State program that Mel Tucker was supposed to turn into a consistent Big Ten champion, is 0-5 vs Power 5 opponents in 2023, and 0-4 in Big Ten competition and sinking faster than the Titanic.

And with Harlon Barnett at the helm, the Spartan ship is “dead on course” for utter destruction yet Barnett is incapable of correcting course because his greatest asset is that he is a “hand clapping” cheerleader.


MSU Executive Administration is a mess (and most championship caliber coaches won’t work amidst such chaos):

More than a Head Football Coach, Michigan State University desperately needs stability and cohesion imposed by a competent, President with supreme vision and leadership.

Simply stated, Michigan State needs a President with leadership skills in the likeness of legendary, Dr. John Hannah and/or Dr. Lou Anna Simon.

For what it’s worth, I originally intended to define the role of a Blue-Ribbon Search Committee in this missive, but the institutional chaos at Michigan State suggests most elite coaches won’t come to Michigan State until its house is in order.

In that regard, I don’t think most Spartan partisans or readers understand the institutional chaos that currently exists at MSU.

After all, in its current construct, there is dysfunction throughout the executive administration including President, Board of Trustees, Athletic Directorship, and Head Football Coach, and here is an overview.

Michigan State is operating with its third interim president since 2018 when Lou Anna Simon stepped down as President. Meanwhile, Dr. Samuel Stanley, the only permanent President since 2018 lasted just 3 years before turmoil ended his tenure.

Compare Stanley’s brief 3-year tenure (filled with turmoil) to the incredible 27-year leadership of Dr. Hannah.

Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees is divided and fractured, lacking competent leadership.

In fact, dissension is so bad that Michigan’s Senior US Senator is calling for Board of Trustees Chair to be ousted while the Governor of Michigan is watching the issue closely and prepared to take emergency action regarding the Board Chair if needed.

And there are other unresolved issues of turmoil.

The university has initiated an investigation into “who” at MSU may have leaked the name of Mel Tucker’s accuser (Brenda Tracy), to the media.

But let’s not deny the facts: by every single measure Tucker violated the moral turpitude clause of his contract, so the “leak” is only a legal sideshow.

Nevertheless, Tucker’s contract remains an unresolved legal issue that must be settled and Michigan State must resolve the Tucker issue because the university can’t move forward if it’s looking back.

Needless to say, every day spent mulling through legal aspects of Tucker’s case is just one more day not moving forward.

In addition, the school is still engaged in “unresolved lawsuits” from survivors of the Larry Nassar saga.

And of course, the University is also being sued by former business school dean Sanjay Gupta, who was dismissed last year by then-Provost Teresa Woodruff who is the most recent interim president.

Meanwhile, the current AD is the third AD to take the reins since Mark Hollis stepped down in 2018.

In fact, it’s notable the current AD, (who by all measures is inexperienced) succeeded an AD with zero athletic experience, and yet the AD with zero athletic experience hired Mel Tucker who was recently fired and of course, Tucker plans to sue the university.

How is that for confusion and chaos? But wait, there’s more!

Meanwhile, the current AD is in charge of an inept Interim Head Football Coach which casts a disparaging light on Michigan State University in each and every football game.

I trust you are gaining a clear vision of the magnitude of dysfunction within Michigan State University which heretofore has been a proud academic institution, yet the preceding scenarios represent enormous drain of administrative leadership and decision making.

So, let’s make this declarative statement: “most” competent, elite, championship caliber football coaches won’t coach Michigan State amidst such institutional chaos regardless of the compensation.


Dysfunction between the white lines:

Lack of discipline continues game by game, unimpeded, which means coaches are failing to do their jobs.

In Big Ten competition, the Spartans are ranked #13 in scoring, averaging just 12 PPG, while its Defense is also ranked #13 yielding 33 PPG. In simple arithmetic, the Spartans are yielding 21 more points per Big Ten game than they are scoring.

Meanwhile, “The Athletic” ranks the Spartans #97 in the land which is worse than the national rankings for mid major schools such as Old Dominion, Florida Atlantic, Appalachian State and Bowling Green.

And recruits are bailing like rodents from a sinking ship.

The Spartans’ recruiting class is ranked #76 and falling fast, and within the forthcoming realignment of the Big Ten including the addition of Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Washington, the Spartans’ recruiting class would be ranked #17 (out of 18) with just 10 verbal commitments in a normal class of 22-24,  while 5 players have already opted for the Transfer Portal.

For those who sent me emails and messages over the last couple years saying I was being too critical of Mel Tucker and suggesting he needed “more time to recruit his guys” then this is a reminder that problems don’t fix themselves and Mel Tucker’s mess is growing exponentially.

After all, more time only begot more problems, and I learned from 40 years of domestic and international business experience that problems don’t get better with time.

At this writing, since arriving at Michigan State, the compass for Mel Tucker’s football organization is pointed due south underscored by a cumulative Big Ten record of 12-17.

And with 5, B1G games yet to play, including at Minnesota (4-3), Nebraska (4-3), at Ohio State (7-0), and Penn State (6-1), the Spartans will assuredly post 4 more losses.

Only the road game at Indiana (2-4) seems like a chance for the Spartans to post a victory, but let’s not forget, the Spartans lost 2 of the last 3 games to Indiana including last season when it lost at Spartan Stadium in 2 OT.

So, barring an unforeseen circumstance, the Spartans will finish this season with a winless 0-9 Big Ten record and that will likely bring Mel Tucker’s cumulative Big Ten record to 12-26, and that is the return Spartan alumni are reaping from the $95 Mn investment for Mel Tucker.

Of course, the $95 Mn investment also includes Mel Tucker’s band of assistant coaches who have never won anything, anywhere or distinguished themselves in any way.

Yet, Mel Tucker agreed to pay each of those coaches more than $1Mn each (only Ross Els earns less), so let’s call out those coaches:

  • Jay Johnson (Offensive Coordinator & Quarterback Coach)
  • Chris Kapilovic (O-Line Coach, Run Game Coordinator, and Assistant Head Coach)
  • Scottie Hazelton (Defensive Coordinator & Linebacker Coach)
  • Harlon Barnett (Defensive Secondary Coach and acting Head Coach)
  • Ross Els (Special Teams Coordinator)

And let us not forget the players which Mel Tucker characterized as his best roster since coming to Michigan State, and yet that “best roster of players” is 0-4 in Big Ten competition after getting hammered by Michigan 49-0.

So, that underscores the fact Mel Tucker, and his assistant coaches are totally inept at evaluating talent at either the HS level or via the Transfer Portal.


At the bottom line (an inflection of no return?)

Let’s be clear, this is an inflection point from which Michigan State may never recover in the era of Super Conferences.

Consequently, if there is hope, then it will take a mighty effort from a Blue-Ribbon Search Committee to find and entice an elite, championship caliber football coach to work amidst the institutional chaos I have described herein.

Let’s remember, the Big Ten “East/West” format will cease to exist at the end of this season, and thereafter competition will commence whereby 18 Big Ten teams will compete in “open competition” for the Big Ten title.

Expansion will include national powers Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington, and in that construct today, both Indiana and Michigan State would be tied for #18 (dead ass last) in an 18-team format.

With just 5 games remaining, I intended to put forth in this missive a narrative describing an independent, diverse, 7-member Blue-Ribbon Search Committee comprised of former Presidents, AD’s and Head Coaches from some of the most prestigious academic schools and elite football programs in the country.

Each of the members whom I have identified and prepared to discuss in my next missive has experience selecting and hiring championship caliber coaches.

Yet by every measure, the Blue-Ribbon Search Committee will have a mighty task convincing and enticing an elite, championship caliber coach to take the helm of Michigan State’s sinking ship, because the new coach will not get help from a dysfunctional administration including the President, BOT or AD any time in the near term.

And it will not be lost on an elite coaching candidate that restoring and rebuilding Spartan Football will be a task of epic proportions.

That is “why” the formation of Blue-Ribbon Search Committee may be the only salvation to entice an elite coach to take the reins at Michigan State.

Of course, even if I coherently define and describe a Blue Ribbon Committee, and explain why such prospective members would be intrigued to assume such a role, there is no certainty Alan Haller, MSU President and the Board of Trustees would implement such a plan.

Regardless, we’re about to see.

Does Alan Haller have the wherewithal to distinguish himself as a championship caliber AD, and build a championship caliber football program or will he be just another in a long list of AD place holders and wannabes?

We’re about to see!

Thank you for reading and I welcome your comments and opinions.

Dayne Thomas