With sirens blaring, Mel Tucker seems to be rearranging Deck Chairs


“Rearranging Deck Chairs” is a popular idiom that everyone is familiar with because it us used to describe futile actions in the face of impending doom, and if anyone is paying attention to Michigan State Football, then Mel Tucker is seemingly rearranging Deck Chairs while emergency sirens are blaring all around.

Just one year after taking the reins of Michigan State Football, Mel Tucker has stood by and watched 26 players enter the Transfer Portal, including some of the most highly regarded recruits in the land. Those players left Michigan State for greener pastures.

The exodus started with 16 players who departed between mid-November and mid-December last year (before the 2020 season concluded) and then 10 players declared for the Transfer Portal last week, on the eve of Spring Practice.

There are a lot of ways to “spin” the loss of 26 players but none are positive and none make sense. At the minimum the loss of 26 players is roster building gone astray. No school in history has ever lost 26 players in a single season (over and above normal attrition) and yet competed for a Championship of any kind and/or maintained any measure of competitiveness.

The magnitude of losing 26 players is unfathomable.

After all, the 26 players were recruited by a multitude of FBS and Power 5 schools over a 1 or 2 year recruiting process, yet in the end, they chose Michigan State.

Thereafter, those players spent 1 to 4 years on Michigan State campus, and so their relationship to Michigan State University and their contributions to Michigan State Football were years in the making, and yet one year into Mel Tucker’s tenure, those players declared that continuing to play football at Michigan State University “was not” in their best interest.

To be clear, the loss of 26 players does not include graduating seniors and/or Spartan players declaring for the NFL Draft. The players who departed had eligibility remaining, and some had as much as 4 years of eligibility remaining.

The only thing comparable to Michigan State losing 26 players into the Transfer Portal was the tragic plane crash that killed 37 members of Marshall Football team in 1970.

By all measures, the loss of talent and playing experience is incalculable.


26 players had Championship expectations:

The 26 players who entered the Transfer Portal were recruited by the previous coaching administration with the promise of competing for Championships.

After all, the previous coaching administration was the “winningest” coaching administration in Michigan State history, compiling a record of 65 wins and just 16 losses (80%) from 2010 to 2015 including 3 Big Ten Championships, a Rose Bowl victory and an invitation to the College Football Playoff

And while there was a decline in victories in recent years, nevertheless the 26 players who left the program were recruited when Michigan State was compiling a solid record of 24-15 (62%) from 2017 to 2019, including a 10 win season and 2 Bowl victories.

Then comes Mel Tucker with a new system and a decidedly different philosophy.

Mel Tucker had just one year of Head Coaching experience, compiling a record of 5-7 (42%) at Colorado. Nevertheless, in spite of meager Head Coaching experience including a losing record, Michigan State’s AD tossed caution to the wind, spun the “Wheel of Fortune” and extended an offer to Mel Tucker. Let’s remember, the coaching search wasn’t exactly a methodical coherent process, in fact it could best be described as a “fire drill”.

So, given a lack of Head Coaching experience and a losing record, it is no surprise Mel Tucker stumbled to a dismal 2-5 record (29%) in his first season at Michigan State.

That means Mel Tucker’s cumulative record at Colorado and Michigan State is a dismal 7-12 (37%).

And let’s be blunt: players with NFL aspirations, or players simply seeking to perform at the highest level during their college experience, aren’t interested in playing for losing programs. So, it’s not a stretch to say that 26 players who recently opted out of Michigan State Football lost confidence in the Spartans coaching staff, especially after the coaching staff arrived at Michigan State with a bounty of boastful promises.

The promises were empty….and the Offensive stats posted last season are a viable indicator of “why” the players saw the program headed in the wrong direction and therefore opted to depart: in one season, Mel Tucker converted Michigan State Football from respectability into an unmitigated “REBUILDING” project.

The following stats say it all:


  • Total Offense ranked #109 out of 130 FBS Schools
  • Rushing Offense ranked #122 out of 130 FBS Schools (the worst in Spartan Football history)
  • Running Backs failed to score a single Rushing Touchdown for first time in Spartan history
  • Offensive Scoring ranked #116 out of 130 Schools (the lowest scoring average in 20 years)
  • 3rd down conversions ranked #114 out of 130 FBS Schools
  • Turnovers ranked #121 out of 130 FBS Schools
  • Passing Efficiency ranked #103 out of 130 FBS Schools (Interceptions exceeded Passing Touchdowns)


William Peagler is the Running Back Coach and can you imagine Peagler explaining to other coaches in a post season performance review that in spite of 239 Rushing attempts, his Running Backs were unable to muster enough “Will” to find the end zone?

For the record, Peagler’s last hands on Coaching experience was 2015 (5 years ago) whereby he was Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach at Olive Branch High School in Mississippi. Let me know if holding the title of Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach at Olive Branch High School inspires confidence when the Spartans line up against Ohio State?

And how about Chris Kapilovic? For his part, Kapilovic not only coaches the Offensive Line, but he also holds title as “Run Game Coordinator” which means he presided over arguably the worst Rushing Offense in Spartan history, and yet in the offseason, Mel Tucker appointed Kapilovic “Assistant Head Football Coach”?

In total Mel Tucker along with Jay Johnson (Offensive Coordinator), Chris Kapilovic (Offensive Line Coach & Run Game Coordinator) and William Peagler (Running Back Coach) presided over one of the worst Offenses to ever play the game of Football, certainly one of the worst in Spartan history and most analyst would agree that Michigan State’s low tempo, plodding, “Ball Control” Offense is archaic in 2020.

The proof is underscored by the fact the Spartan Offense averaged just 18 points a game while the Top 10 teams in the country averaged 40 Points or more.

After all, “Ball Control Offense” went out of fashion after Jim Tressel left the room replaced by hi octane Offenses made fashionable by Urban Meyer and todays cadre of Championship coaches.

And that brings me to Championship coaches in general.


Championship coaches find a way to win with the players they inherit:

Going back 70 years or more, I could cite Biggie Munn at Albright College, Syracuse and Michigan State.

Or more recently I could cite Nick Saban at Toledo, Michigan State, LSU and Alabama, or I could cite Brian Kelly at Cincinnati and Notre Dame, or for that matter I could cite a long list of Championship coaches, each of whom improved the won/lost record of the teams they inherited.

Their makeup is the same, they find a way to win.

In some cases, the improvement was modest during their first season, yet each improved the won/lost records with the players they inherited.

Conspicuously missing from the list is Mel Tucker. And while we hear subtle excuses surrounding the Spartan current coaching staff, such as: late start, COVID, interrupted season, etc., etc. etc., yet no coach ever had to overcome the “degree of difficulty” faced by Urban Meyer.

Most people forget that Urban Meyer earned his stripes starting at the bottom: first at Bowling Green, then Utah, then Florida and finally Ohio State.


  • At Bowling Green, Urban Meyer inherited a team that posted an upside down 3 year record of 12-21, and yet Urban Meyer posted a first year record of 8-3 followed by a second record of 9-3.
  • At Utah, Urban Meyer inherited a team that posted a three year record of 17-17 including two losing seasons, and yet Urban Meyer posted a first year record of 10-2 followed by an unbeaten record of 12-0.
  • At Florida, Urban Meyer inherited a team that posted an unremarkable record of 7-5 the previous season, and yet Urban Meyer immediately posted a record of 9-3 followed by a record of 13-1 including a National Championship
  • At Ohio State, Urban Meyer inherited a team that posted a 6-7 record after the forced resignation of Jim Tressel, and yet Urban Meyer immediately posted a record of 12-0 and by year three he posted a National Championship.


Urban Meyer only lost 8 games in 11 seasons at Ohio State and in 17 years as a Head Football Coach, Urban Meyer never posted a losing record.

Meanwhile Spartan Beat Writers repeatedly articulate problems faced by Mel Tucker in his first season, so I intentionally cited Urban Meyer because no coach faced the multitude of challenges Urban Meyer faced at Bowling Green and then Utah and yet his “incredible turnarounds” in the face of roster deficiencies and limited program support are remarkable.

Simply stated, Mel Tucker lost more games in two years than Urban Meyer lost in 11 seasons at Ohio State.

So, whether it be Biggie Munn, or Nick Saban, or Brian Kelly, or Urban Meyer, coaches who win at the highest level start by winning with the players they inherit: they find a way, they coach, they develop and they implement a Championship philosophy: they win with the players they inherit,

In fact, I can also cite Karl Dorrell who inherited Mel Tucker’s team at Colorado. Mel Tucker posted a record of 5-7 (42%) at Colorado, and yet Karl Dorrell posted a 4-2 record (67%) with the very players he inherited from Mel Tucker.

And let’s remember, Mel Tucker inherited a solid team at Michigan State that posted a solid record of 24-15 in the previous 3 seasons and yet Mel Tucker is trying to convince the world that he must overhaul his entire roster to build a winning team, essentially he is asking for more time, but Mel Tucker doesn’t have more time.


At the bottom line (the honeymoon is over for Mel Tucker and his staff):

Given the fact Mel Tucker and his staff are earning Top 15 compensation, and given the fact more than 100 Offenses and 50 Defenses in the country rank higher, and given the fact that more than 100 schools had better won/lost records, it means Mel Tucker can’t afford a third consecutive losing season.

Yet, after losing 10 players on the eve of Spring Practice, Mel Tucker said:

“We’re gonna look to add guys all the way until we start fall camp. That’s the name of the game — get the best players that you can find and teach them and motivate them and develop them. You have you have good players to have a chance to compete and win games in this conference and beyond.” (unquote)

But wait Mel, you don’t have the luxury of waiting until fall camp.

In case Mel Tucker is unfamiliar, Spring practice is the time when Championship programs are implementing their “playbooks” and establishing their Depth Chart thereby ensuring that when fall camp resumes in August, the playbook is set, the Depth Chart is set. and everyone is on the same page ready to fine tune a Championship run.

So, if Mel Tucker is awaiting for Fall Camp to set his roster, it means he has already conceded a losing season because Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State, Michigan, Rutgers, Indiana and Maryland are light years ahead, in fact every Big Ten team will be light years ahead of Michigan State.

In closing, if some think I am being too critical or unfair to Mel Tucker, then I simply say, my allegiance is to Michigan State University and the Championship model crafted by John Hannah and Biggie Munn.

If Mel Tucker is seeking praise, he either needs to step up, or step down, because Mel Tucker owns every dismal stat that I cited, and none of it portends good things for Championship aspirations of Michigan State Football.

Of course, I trust Bill Beekman hears the sirens blaring, or does he? Will he have advice for Mel Tucker? Stay tuned…the silence is likely to be deafening

At any measure, rearranging Deck Chairs is not a solution!


Thanks you for reading.