Michigan State was in a bad spot when Luke Fickell, the number one option to replace Mark Dantonio, turned them down. Public rejection was becoming routine as candidate after candidate said thanks, but no thanks to the rebuilding project in East Lansing. So the search firm went back to the drawing board and doubled back to one of the guys who had declined previously.
In a shocking show of competence, the Spartans are backing up the Brinks truck for Mel Tucker. The two sides have an agreement and an official announcement is expected this afternoon.
Tucker tweeted this three days ago.
So how did MSU convince him to go back on his word? The old-fashioned way. With money and promises of great things to come.
"The deal will double Tucker's $3.2 million salary pool for assistant coaches, increase the Michigan State strength and conditioning staff budget and "more than double" Tucker's $2.675 million salary. "
Some offers you can't refuse, even if you've refused previous offers.
Spartans fans who have felt like it's been a Groundhog Day situation, in which bad decision after bad decision fill each day, are shocked to the core. MSU did something right. A big thing.
Tucker is a great hire considering the emergency situation the program found itself in after Dantonio stepped away at such a late juncture. Tucker would be a very good hire at any point in the coaching carousel's revolution.
The 48-year-old began his coaching career at MSU, served under Nick Saban, has had varying degrees of success in the NFL, and is coming off a 5-7 year at Colorado. Like Dantonio, he coached the Ohio State defense. But his connections aren't close enough to taint him with the stink of the old guard.
He's proven adept at recruiting the Buckeye state, which has been the most fertile ground for MSU in recent decades. He helped both Alabama and Georgia reel in defensive stud after defensive stud. He's well-spoken and will energize the boosters. He seems willing to play the hard-nosed style of football that Dantonio brought to Indianapolis, the Rose Bowl, and the College Football playoff.
MSU Athletic Director Bill Beekman's reputation had sunken to a deep valley earlier this week. Options and hope seemed limited. Then he went and did something like this to totally redeem himself.
Look, let's not get too caught up in the moment. Michigan State faces an uphill climb back to the top. The cupboard is bare and there's plenty of ancillary issues lingering. This construction project will take time.
But there's a new foreman in town and he means business. He's studied the blueprint and thinks he can make it work. Time will tell if this is the home-run hire it appears to be -- and we all know what happens to the best-laid plans.
Considering the negative momentum and direction of the program over the past few months, though, there's no other way to view this morning's surprising news then as a tremendous save. The train is back on the tracks, perhaps moving in the right direction again.