Mel Tucker out of time and under “Extreme Pressure” to win…NOW!

Note: Big Ten Media Days concluded after hosting all 14 Big Ten coaches for two full days of Press Conferences and Interviews and B1G Media Days signals the official start of the 2023 Big Ten Football season. In turn, Spartan Football will commence fall practice on Aug 3 and that means there will be plenty of media hype from now until the first game on Sep 1, but I want to keep it real and separate reality from media hyperbole. Within this missive, I put forth the argument that Mel Tucker has brought about self-inflicted wounds including but not limited to tepid recruiting, poor roster management, lack of roster continuity due to an abundance of inbound/outbound transfers and it’s all compounded by the fact MT employs a coaching staff lacking championship credentials. In the big picture analysis, the stats (football’s equivalent of a company’s financial statement) illustrate that the fundamentals of Spartan Football are broken, and we will examine all aspects herein. There is a lot to cover, which means this missive is longer than usual, yet I hope you find it insightful and informative.


If a university hopes to compete for championships, then it must continuously measure and manage its progress and make requisite organizational decisions to ensure success, of course some of those decisions will not be popular, yet winning championships is the goal.

Let’s remember, Football is the most visible symbol at major universities. It’s the front porch!

It’s the cash cow, the goose that laid the golden eggs, it’s the sport that draws the fans and pays the freight for virtually every sport that flies under its banner.

Of course, alumni and donors are sensitive to winning. Win and donations go up, lose and donations go down. Of course, lose consistently and donations go “way down”.

So, with that being said, there is no polite way to say it, but Mel Tucker is under “Extreme Pressure” to win NOW, and that means he desperately needs to post a winning season otherwise Michigan State should cut ties with their $95 Mn savior.

But winning comes with a caveat. The Spartans need to prove they can beat the best teams on their schedule and that means Power 5 schools.

With respect to Central Michigan and Richmond which are the first two games on the Spartan schedule, let’s be honest, posting gratuitous victories vs two non-Power 5 schools like CMU and Richmond won’t mean much trying to garner national respect.

So, Mel Tucker’s job is to post a winning record vs the ten (10) Power 5 schools on his schedule and that means 9 Big Ten opponents plus University of Washington,

But that’s easier said than done!


Bold talk…

Of course, Mel Tucker came to East Lansing with a lot of bold talk.

He talked boldly about changing the culture as if Spartan Football was a historically backward program lacking in a winning tradition.

He spoke like he had a magic plan, yet what was his plan?

Since arriving in East Lansing there has been a lot of off the field theatre given that MT has hosted recruits with BBQ’s, Cigar soirees and sightseeing excursions in exotic cars.

He talked about being relentless and taking opponents into the deep end.

Yet, in Big Ten competition, slogans, cliches’ and mantra’s mean nothing on gameday because MT has lost more Big Ten games than he has won.

But can MT mount a turnaround and restore confidence amongst fans and national pundits?

That’s the question we will break down.


Pundits cast their votes:

This is the time of year when Pundits of all stripes are publishing their predictions for 2023.

Yet I haven’t found a single football analyst who believes Mel Tucker is up to the task of competing for a Big Ten championship. In fact, I can’t find a single analyst who predicts more than 5 wins or predicts better than 5th place finish in Big Ten East.

Most recently, the highly regarded “” compiled “Pressure Rankings” on each Power 5 coach from ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, PAC 12 and SEC (69 in all) and Mel Tucker is ranked in the “Extreme Pressure” category to win now (and rightfully so).

The Pressure Rankings are graded Low, Medium, High, and Extreme, with “Extreme” being the most pressure to win now yet that’s where Mel Tucker finds himself.

We should note, MT is the only coach in the Big Ten and one of only four (4) Power 5 coaches to earn such dismal ranking.

Other coaches in the “Extreme Pressure” category include Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M); Dino Babers (Syracuse); and Neal Brown (West Virginia).

Yet MT is the highest paid coach on the “Extreme” list, a coach who has done the least with the most, so let’s be honest, he deserves to be on the list!

After all, On3 cites MT’s losing campaign at Colorado…compounded by 2 losing seasons at Michigan State and there is no positive trend to suggest things will get better.

In fact, MT’s dismal record is underlined by a 12-13 W/L record in Big Ten competition, a 3-6 W/L record in PAC 12 competition, and that renders a 15-19 W/L record in conference competition overall.


Under scrutiny by pundits far and wide

Some Spartan fans think I have been unfairly critical of Mel Tucker, yet I am not alone because my opinion is gaining disciples.

Casting doubt on MT’s capability are a collection of national media outlets, football analysts and oddsmakers including but not limited to, Caesars, The Athletic, Athlon, Lindy’s, Phil Steele, and CBS Sports to name just a few.

If readers think Mel Tucker can work magic in 2023 and make a magical turnaround from last year, well your opinion would be diametrically opposed to the national pundits.

For one, “” declares Mel Tucker is under Extreme Pressure which they define as “the burden of not meeting expectations”.

Further to that point, On3 suggests MT is at risk of angering enough deep-pocketed boosters who don’t care about the big buyout and may find himself on the coaching carousel at the end of the season.


Other Pundits speak their piece regarding MT:

Amongst many oddsmakers, Caesars is predicting Mel Tucker’s win total at 4.5.

When we consider 4.5-wins, it assumes the Spartans will get two gratuitous victories vs Central Michigan and Richmond. If that’s the case, then that renders the very real possibility of MT winning no more than 3 games throughout the remainder of a 10 game schedule.

But which teams can Mel Tucker beat?

Caesars didn’t predict specific Wins & Losses, so let me make some calculated guesses.


Spartans, Game by Game:

I said in my preface I would “keep it real” so I say without equivocation, the Spartans “will not” beat Washington, Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State all of which are preseason Top 10 picks.

In that regard, we can note the Spartans lost to each of those opponents last season by a cumulative score of 152-71 or an average loss of 38-18, so the only question in 2023 is can Mel Tucker keep it respectable against those opponents?

Looking at the rest of the schedule, it is highly unlikely the Spartans can go on the road and win at Iowa or Minnesota.

After all, Minnesota dismantled the Spartans in Spartan Stadium 34-7 last season and held the Spartans scoreless until 1:31 remained in the 4th Qtr. So it won’t get easier playing Minnesota in Minneapolis.

In turn, Iowa beat Minnesota last season, so it is a solid calculated guess, the Spartans will not beat either Iowa or Minnesota on the road.

Then the Spartans host Maryland and Nebraska at home. Do the Spartans have a “punchers chance” against either of those schools?

Let’s remember, Maryland handily beat the Spartans 27-13 last season and held the Spartans scoreless in the 2nd half.

Meanwhile Nebraska fired Scott Frost its native son as HC, and in turn hired highly regarded Matt Rhule who distinguished himself as HC at Temple and Baylor.

for the record, Rhule compiled a 14-2 record in his final two seasons at Temple including two first place ACC finishes. Then posted an 11-3 record in his last season at Baylor. Coaching advantage to Matt Rhule.

So, there isn’t strong evidence the Spartans can beat either Maryland or Nebraska at home yet we could argue MT has a “punchers chance” against Nebraska.

That leaves Rutgers and Indiana. Can the Spartans beat Rutgers and/or Indiana on the road?

Don’t be too quick to say yes.

We should note the Spartan eked out a narrow 7-point victory vs lowly Rutgers at Spartan Stadium last season. It was hardly a decisive victory given Rutgers outscored the Spartans in the 2nd Half and pounded out nearly 225 Yards Rushing. Call it 50-50 for Spartans to win at Rutgers.

Then MT lost the following week in 2 OTs to Indiana at Spartan Stadium noting the Spartans were outscored in 2nd half 24-7 and Indiana pounded out a whopping 257 Yards Rushing!

So, when we add it up, the Spartans’ best chances to post Big Ten victories are “punchers” chances vs Indiana, Nebraska, and Rutgers but probably not all three.

If Caesar’s is right (and they usually are) then at best, the Spartans will finish 3-6 Big Ten and 5-7 overall…and Mel Tucker will own yet another losing season.


Other pundits state their case and question Mel Tucker’s capability.

  • The Athletic predicts just 4.1 wins for the Spartans which translates to #6 Big Ten East and #13 Big Ten overall, just ahead of lowly Indiana. The Athletic editorializes, “…it seems Kenneth Walker III should have won the Heisman Trophy…because Michigan State has fallen off a cliff since he went to the NFL.”
  • Athlon Sports predicts the Spartans will finish #5 amongst just 7 teams in the Big Ten East.
  • predicts the Spartans will finish #5 Big Ten East behind Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Maryland, and just ahead of Rutgers and Indiana.
  • Lindy’s Sports predicts the Spartans #5 Big Ten East and no better than #44 in the land.
  • Phil Steele, predicts the Spartans will finish #5 Big Ten East and #9 Big Ten overall.
  • CBS declares (and I paraphrase) if MT had not acquired Kenneth Walker III via the Transfer Portal…then Mel Tucker would arguably be without a single winning season at Michigan State and that seems to be the growing sentiment amongst pundits across the land.

In summary, there is no place for Mel Tucker to hide. In 4 years as a Head Coach at Colorado and Michigan State he has posted 3 losing seasons and failed to prove he is a championship-caliber Head Football Coach.

And the stats tell us, he isn’t close!


Statistically, Mel Tucker’s product is broken:

For all his bold talk, Mel Tucker has compiled some of the most deplorable statistics in college football history and the numbers don’t lie…his product is fundamentally broken!!!


Here is a Statistical overview from last season:

In Big Ten competition, when ranked amongst 13 other Big Ten teams, the Spartans ranked #10 (bottom 30th percentile) or worse in 21 “key” statistical categories. Let’s look:


  • #10 Scoring Offense…19.8 PPG
  • #12 Scoring Defense…30.8 PPG


  • #12 Rush Offense…95 YPG gained.
  • #14 Rush Defense…208 YPG yielded.

Defensive efficiency:

  • #13, 1st Downs yielded…24%
  • #14, 3rd Downs yielded…47%
  • #10, 4th Downs yielded…63%

Offensive efficiency:

  • #11, 3rd Down conversions…36%
  • #13, 4th Down conversions…32%

Pass Defense:

  • #13 Total Pass Defense…229 YPG
  • #14 Pass completions yielded…70%
  • #14 Pass TDs yielded…22
  • #14 Forced interceptions…2
  • #14 Overall Pass Efficiency Defense


Miscellaneous (Kicking, Penalties, Sacks, Time of Possession):


  • #10, Kick-off Efficiency (net yards) …40 Yards per.
  • #14, FG Efficiency 50% (converted just 5 of 10)
  • #14, PAT Efficiency…90% (converted just 19 of 21 essentially automatic PAT’s)


  • #10, Penalties incurred…57 (or 6.3 per game)
  • #11, Penalty yardage assessed…61 YPG.


  • #12, Sacks vs Big Ten opponents…17

Time of Possession:

  • #13…25:33

Let’s count it up: in B1G competition, Mel Tucker’s team finished #14 (dead ass last”) in 8 “key” statistical categories including but not limited to Rush Defense, 3rd Down Defense and Pass Efficiency Defense.

Yet overall, in Big Ten competition, MT’s team ranked #10 or worse in 21 Statistical categories.

Those stats don’t portray a simple breakdown of a single position group, rather they portray a total and complete systemic breakdown of every single position group.

Some think I have been unfairly critical of MT, yet I would argue the preceding stats are an insult to more than 115 years of Spartan Football, especially an insult to 6 National Championship teams and their coaches.

It may sound cynical, but it would be fair to ask: who is coaching this team? Or is anyone coaching this team?


Mel Tucker and his coaches shamed on gameday.

There have been plenty of excuses handed out for Mel Tucker, (give him more time, more time, more time, etc, etc, etc).

Yet 2022 was Mel Tucker’s 3rd season at Michigan State and with all the roster manipulations via the Transfer Portal, in other words, players in and players out, MT owns the roster, he owns the product…

Let’s remember, MT  declared he would “change the culture” and he has, yet there is nothing to suggest it’s better.

Moreover, the team he describes with a bounty of cliches and mantra’s, including Relentless and Keep Choppin’, hardly live up to those words.

In fact, the Spartans were outscored in the 4th Qtr by 7 out of 9 Big Ten opponents last season including Rutgers and Indiana! (So much for Relentless, and so much for Keep Choppin’)

Let’s examine coaches and coordinators.


Chris Kapilovic: Assistant Head Coach, O-Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator.

We were told by Mel Tucker that Chris Kapilovic was a top-notch O-Line Coach, but Kapiloivic has proven inept and failed miserably in 2 out of 3 seasons in Big Ten competition.

In 2020, Kapilovic Rush Offense ranked #13 when measured in Big Ten competition, but instead of improving, it got worse. Kapilovic Rush Offense finished #14 last season (dead ass last) averaging a meager 95 Rush Yards per game.

Scottie Hazelton: Defensive Coordinator.

Hazelton’s Rush Defense yielded nearly 165 Rush YPG in 2020 (bottom half of the Big Ten), then totally melted down in 2022 yielding an astounding 208 Rush YPG which ranked #14 (dead ass last) in B1G competition. In fact, the Spartans were the only team to yield an average of more than 200 Yards Rushing in Big Ten competition.

How far has the Rush Defense fallen?

By comparison, the Spartan Rush Defense under Mark Dantonio was consistently a Top 10 force when measured against 130 D-1/FBS schools, and finished in Top 10 six times between 2011 and 2018, and finished #1 twice.

Of course, Dantonio’s Rush Defense was in the very capable hands of Mike Tressel (LB’s) and Ron Burton (D-Line) who were responsible for Front 7.

Of course, MT inherited both Tressel and Burton yet didn’t find them worthy and escorted them to the door!

So, instead of taking the baton from Mark Dantonio and taking the Rush Defense to the next level, MT ran Mike Tressel out the door and hired Scottie Hazelton and together MT and Hazelton have collectively thrown the Spartan Defense into reverse!

In fact, last season, Spartan Rush Defense yielded more than 200 Yards Rushing in 5 B1G games including lowly Indiana and Rutgers…a shameful statistic for the once proud and dominating Spartan Defense!

Spartan Secondary (lots of blame to go around)

And how about Spartans Pass Defense under the guidance of Harlon Barnett (Secondary Coach) …Scottie Hazelton (Defensive Coordinator)…and Mel Tucker?

The Spartan Pass Defense finished #14 (dead ass last) in 2021 by way of yielding an “eye glazing” 338 Pass YPG in Big Ten competition which also ranked “dead ass last” when measured against 130 D-1/FBS Schools.

Then Mel Tucker vowed to lend a hand and fix the Spartans porous Pass Defense, but that was an empty promise because 2022 was worse.

In 2022, the Spartans Pass Defense ranked #14 (dead ass last) in “Pass Defense Efficiency”, enabling Big Ten opponents to complete 70% of their Pass Attempts (dead ass last); yielded 22 Touchdowns (dead ass last); and pick 2 Interceptions (dead ass last).

So, it’s fair to ask this cynical question: who said Mel Tucker could build a championship caliber Defense?

In fact, here is a shameful statistical summary of 2022 and begs the question: does Mel Tucker have a clue how to fix the problems?

  • In B1G games, the Spartans averaged just 19.8 PPG, yet yielded an astounding 30.8 PPG, meanwhile three opponents exceeded 20-point margin including: Michigan 22…Minnesota 27…Ohio State 29.
  • In B1G games, opponents out gained the Spartans 208 Rush Yards per game to just 95 (a staggering differential of 113 Rushing Yards per game).
  • In B1G games, opponents converted 47%, 3rd Downs to just 36% for Spartans.
  • In B1G games, opponents completed 70% of their Pass Attempts while Spartan Pass Defense ranked #14 (dead ass last) in TDs yielded (22) and Interceptions (2).
  • In B1G games, Spartans converted just 50% of FG’s…and just 90% of PAT’s.

So, the preceding stats underscore a fundamental and systemic breakdown of every single position group and there is no statistical momentum leading into 2023 season.


Loyalty lost (players jumping ship for better opportunities):

Let’s remember, Mel Tucker lost Payton Thorne his starting QB, as well as Keon Coleman and Germie Bernard both gifted 4-Star Wide Receivers, all of whom opted for better opportunities in the Transfer Portal.

Bernard opted out shortly after last season while Thorne and Coleman opted out at the conclusion of Spring practice.

In all, 18 players opted for the Transfer Portal, third most in Big Ten. It isn’t the most player defections in the country in a single season, but it’s a lot, and defections erode roster continuity as well as gameday consistency. In fact, according to 24/, 47% of the Spartans roster are imports from the portal. That’s a dizzying percentage.

Meanwhile, MT also lost Jayden Reed, a 4-Star Wide Receiver who departed early for the NFL.

So, in 2023 Mel Tucker will try to make lemonade with an inexperienced QB, a cadre of inexperienced Wide Receivers, a woeful Rush Offense that averaged just 95 YPG in B1G competition…as well as a Defense that is underscored by Dysfunction.

Consequently, 2023 is on track to finish worse than 2022. We’ve already made some calculated guesses regarding wins & losses, but here is another look at the schedule of Power 5 opponents in order:

Washington…Maryland…@Iowa…@Rutgers…Michigan…@Minnesota…Nebraska…@Ohio State…@Indiana…and Penn State (neutral field).

The schedule is daunting and the picture is bleak because it is in the realm of possibilities the Spartans could finish worse than last season.

Moreover, I don’t think most Spartan fans sitting at home realize just how bad Tucker’s product is and that is “exactly why” I compile and put forth these statistical compilations.


At the bottom line: Spartan fans deserve better…

No one is asking Mel Tucker to work miracles, but Spartan fans certainly deserve better than the inconsistent product MT has built in East Lansing.

MT inherited a solid foundation from Mark Dantonio yet in 3 years, Spartan Football has lost its stability and lost its identity. In fact, what is the identity of Mel Tucker’s team?

  • Ground pounding Offense…no
  • Dominant Running Backs…no
  • Dominating Offensive Line…no
  • Air Raid Offense…no
  • Dominating Run Defense…no
  • Dominating Defensive Line…no
  • Lock down Pass Defense…no

MT hid his team from view last spring by conducting Spring practice in lieu of a Spring Game, but let’s make this point: if Tucker was proud of his product and confident of his product, he would have put it on display in Spring…but he kept it hidden.

And let’s be honest, conducting Spring Practice in lieu of Spring Game was absurd, an insult to knowledgeable Spartan fans. But the moment of truth is at hand.

On Sep 16 Mel Tucker will host Top 10 ranked University of Washington and everything MT tried to hide in the Spring will be exposed.

Let’s remember MT was walking with a lot of swagger after an 11-2 season in 2021, but he got a rude awakening in the 3rd game last season when Washington completed 60% of its pass attempts for nearly 17 Yards per completion and a whopping 397 Passing Yards and 4 TDs.

In total Washington pounded the Spartan Defense for more than 500 Yards of Total Offense.

It was an omen of things to come!

To defuse criticism, Mel Tucker declared “I’m a “a horseshit football coach right now.”

Yes indeed, Mel…no one would argue with you…

Problematically, it got progressively worse. Several weeks later Ohio State pounded the Spartan Defense for an eye glazing 614 Yards by way of completing 21 of 26 passes (a blistering 80%) for 361 Yards Passing including 6 Passing TDs, and that was complemented by 237 Yards Rushing and a Rushing TD, and all in, it resulted in a 29-point OSU victory.

And to add insult to injury, lowly Indiana, which only posted one victory against Big Ten East opponents last season, pounded the Spartans Rush Defense for nearly 260 Yards and beat the Spartans in double OT at Spartan Stadium.

Of course, after losing the final game to Penn State 35-16 and posting a dismal 3-6 Big Ten record, Mel Tucker should have declared “I’m ‘still’ a horseshit football coach right now.” and the congregation would have said Amen!

Yet, Mel Tucker has one more season to correct course but is he capable of fixing the broken product he created?

I concur with, and that means Mel Tucker is under Extreme Pressure to win…NOW, but can MT beat at least 6, Power 5 opponents on his schedule? After all, that’s  not a high bar especially for a $95 Mn coach!

It doesn’t matter which Power 5 teams, and it doesn’t matter if the Spartans win by 1 point or 100, but Mel Tucker needs to beat at least 6 Power 5 opponents on his schedule, otherwise Michigan State University needs to cut ties.

At Big Ten media days MT declared this is the most talent he has had. He better hope so, because Spartan fans deserve better, and the din of restlessness amongst MT’s most loyal fans is getting louder and louder.

Spartan fans deserve better than Mel Tucker is giving them!

Thank you for reading.

I always welcome your comments and opinions and of course you can always click on to read previous articles and related stories. New readers can also subscribe.