Given the reported salary offer from the Spartans, it shouldn’t be too surprising that he ultimately took it. According to a report by The Athletic, Tucker will be making over $5 million. Michigan State is reportedly doubling his Colorado salary, despite his one year of experience and 5-7 head coaching record.
The Spartans were clearly pretty desperate to land their guy here. Mark Dantonio unexpectedly stepped down from his long term job just one day before National Signing Day last week. While some thought the move might get his long time assistant Mike Tressel the job for at least a year as interim head coach, the Spartans were obviously inclined to make a big hire.
The Big Ten is a financial behemoth of a conference, with only the SEC doing roughly as well on a per-team basis. That is how Michigan State, which may only be the fourth best job in its own division, can afford to give a coach like Tucker a top 15 salary nationally. It seems very unlikely that Colorado would be able to match the full package, which also reportedly doubles his salary pool for assistant coaches. Even so, it doesn’t even sound like the Buffaloes were given the chance to try, according to 247Sports’ Adam Munsterteiger:
Rick George and the #CUBuffs were prepared to make a counter offer to Mel Tucker this morning. But Tucker's agent did not give them the opportunity to, before agreeing to become Michigan State's new coach.
— Adam Munsterteiger (@adamcm777) February 12, 2020
Late last night, Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic reported that Tucker was “transparent” during the process.
Hearing that MSU went after Mel Tucker strong (and twice) and that he was transparent with his AD at Colorado throughout.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) February 12, 2020
Mel Tucker made around $2.7 million at Colorado last season. It seems very unlikely that Colorado would have matched Michigan State, a move that would have put him at nearly $1 million more than the Pac-12’s highest paid coach, Stanford’s David Shaw, per USA Today.
Still, if he was willing to turn down Michigan State the first time for what was likely a raise from his Colorado salary, indicating that he was pretty happy with his situation in Boulder, one would think that he and his agent would at least hear the Buffs out if possible. It is unclear what type of timeline Michigan State gave him on the offer.
While the salary bump would probably draw most head coaches at the middle of the Power Five, that doesn’t mean others can’t be annoyed with how things played out, especially given some of the things Tucker said along the way.