Michigan State awards 10-year, $ 95 million contract to Mel Tucker | Sports News

By LARRY LAGE, AP sports writer

Michigan State gives Mel Tucker a 10-year, $ 95 million contract, making an aggressive move to keep a football coach who could have potentially left for LSU or the NFL.

“I am honored to be a part of the Spartan process today and for years to come,” Tucker wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday.

The 12th Spartans (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) round out the regular season against Penn State (7-4, 4-4) on Saturday at home.

Tucker’s contract makes him one of the richest coaches in college football.

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Only Nick Saban of Alabama, one of his mentors, who earns $ 9,753,221 a year, is better paid on an annual basis, according to USA Today’s Coaching Salary Database.

Tucker’s 10-year contract places him in the company of choice with two coaches with the same tenure: Dabo Swinney of Clemson and Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M. Swinney’s contract is worth $ 92 million and Fisher’s deal will net him over $ 9 million and more per year, starting in 2022.

Tucker’s deal, which expires Jan. 15, 2032, provides for a base salary of $ 5.9 million, additional compensation of $ 3.2 million for media and personal appearances as well as a contingent annual bonus of $ 400,000.

“We are delighted to have Mel here for the next 10 years,” United Wholesale Mortgage President and CEO Mat Ishbia, one of the donors funding Tucker’s new contract, told The Associated Press. “He’s a winner. He represents the state of Michigan in a fantastic way and we are excited for the future.

“We have a winner and we are not letting a winner leave the state of Michigan. Mel didn’t want to leave, but the reality is he’s the hottest name in football.

Tucker, 49, gets pay raise as part of long-term deal because of what he’s done so far and what’s happened in the past in the state of Michigan .

After winning just two games on his debut in the pandemic shortened season, Tucker has led one of college football’s most surprising teams. The Spartans started the season unclassified and underdog and now have a chance to win 10 games and earn a spot in a New Years bowl game.

The Ohio State No.2 showed Tucker’s side how far they need to go in last week’s 56-7 win that ended the Spartans’ championship hopes.

The state of Michigan was very motivated to give Tucker every reason to stay after losing Saban to LSU in November 1999.

“There was a time when Michigan State had the best football and basketball coach with Nick Saban and Tom Izzo,” Ishbia told the AP. “Now we have a chance to have the best coaching duo in America again and we’re going to pay Mel like he’s gone.”

Tucker was a graduate assistant at Michigan State for Saban during the 1997 and 1978 seasons, when he made $ 400 a week and slept under a desk, hoping the head coach would be impressed with his dedication.

Even before the championship-caliber program in Baton Rouge, Louisiana announced that he was parting ways with Ed Orgeron earlier this season, Tucker was mentioned as a candidate in part because he coached the defensive backs of the Tigers under Saban in 2000 and has an impressive resume with stints on the Ohio and Georgia state staffs.

Tucker’s ties to the NFL also made it likely that teams with coaching positions in the league would try to push him away this winter. Tucker was 2-3 years old ten years ago as an interim coach at Jacksonville, where he was the defensive coordinator, a role he also played with his hometown of Cleveland Browns and Chicago during his 10 seasons. on the sidelines of the NFL.

While it will cost a lot of money to keep Tucker in the state of Michigan, the pay raise is a gift from Ishbia and Steve St. Andre.

Ishbia was on Tom Izzo’s 2000 National Championship basketball team. Earlier this year, Ishbia donated $ 32 million to Michigan State Track and Field and he gives $ 500 a month to the school’s male soccer and basketball players. St. Andre is the founder and CEO of Shift Digital, a marketing company.

Tucker thanked the two donors by name in his Twitter post, as well as former Michigan state soccer players Brian Mosallam and Jason Strayhorn, for their help in finalizing the new contract.

“It’s a process to build a championship winning program,” Tucker said.

Following the retirement of coach Mark Dantonio in February 2020, Tucker more than doubled his total compensation by leaving Colorado after just one season with a 5-7 record to sign a six-year contract worth more than $ 5.5 million a year at Michigan State.

Tucker didn’t have much time with his new team last year before the pandemic took players away from campus and it shows with a 2-5 record.

With an influx of transfers, including running back Kenneth Walker, candidate for the Heisman Trophy, the Spartans have won their first eight games this season, including a second straight victory over rival Michigan.

“The decision to extend Mel Tucker’s contract is not based on a performance year, but rather an investment in a bright future for Spartan football,” said sporting director Alan Haller.

Whether the season ends with successes or setbacks, the school and its fans shouldn’t have to worry about losing their coach.

“The state of Michigan is not a stepping stone, it is a destination, and Mel knows it,” Ishbia told the AP. “He didn’t want to leave, but when someone’s down and they’re loyal, you take care of them.”

Follow Larry Lage on https://twitter.com/larrylage

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