College football head coaches are free to leave their jobs with relative impunity, as Mel Tucker showed today. Just days after publicly turning down Michigan State and committing to Colorado for the long haul, he is Big Ten bound after just one year in Boulder.
According to a report by The Athletic, Tucker’s salary has been basically doubled, to a reported $5.2 million, a wild number for a will-be second year head coach with a 5-7 record all-time. Per USA Today‘s 2019 numbers, he would be the 12th-highest paid head coach at that number, between two of his new conference-mates: Penn State’s James Franklin and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald. Tucker made under $3 million last year, and will also have his assistant coach salary pool doubled.
Ultimately, it is hard to blame Mel Tucker for taking the job with that kind of a salary bump. Michigan State was probably desperate, and did what it had to do to poach him from CU. When he turned the school down just four days ago, he might’ve meant it based on the situation at the time. It just goes to show that you maybe shouldn’t say anything until the ink is completely dry on a situation.
Tucker’s tweet about turning down MSU isn’t the only one that is making the rounds today. A quote of him from this fall may look even worse in light of the move. Like many other head coaches, Tucker reportedly railed against the transfer portal. In October, according to Colorado assistant athletic director and football sports information director Curtis Snyder, Tucker said that there is “no transfer portal in real life.” The tweet was deleted after FootballScoop posted about the quote. That hasn’t stopped numerous people from ripping it.
Yes, but maybe don't hit your players with "There’s no transfer portal in the real world” and then do this. The hypocrisy always stands out. https://t.co/7QQ2N1pimp
— Doug Farrar (@NFL_DougFarrar) February 12, 2020
2018 – Georgia (DC)
2019 – Colorado (HC)
2020 – Michigan St (HC)
“There’s no transfer portal in the real world” – Mel Tucker
— Shawne Harvey (aka DJ Shawne) (@djshawne1) February 12, 2020
I think it’s more his vocal stance against player transfers when he’s about to “transfer” to his third program in as many years.
“There’s no transfer portal in the real world.” How is that not hypocrisy?
— Phil Murphy (@Phil_Sports) February 12, 2020
Since Mel Tucker became a football coach in 1997 he's coached for 11 different schools/teams in 22 years. 3 schools in the last 3 years alone.
There's no transfer portal in the real world though.
— Jimmy Clarke (@JimmyClarke) February 12, 2020
A number of major college football voices called out Tucker for the quote back when he made it as well.
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I can assure you, the dumbass things that college coaches say about the transfer portal like this are not true. https://t.co/yViGnYWqo7
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) October 23, 2019
Uh, yeah there is. I changed jobs in July. Mel changed jobs in December. https://t.co/XlTCdnp0DT
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) October 23, 2019
Many are going to find it hard to criticize a guy for doubling his salary and finding a situation that will make it easier to compensate his assistants well. Mel Tucker is also a Midwestern guy; he’s from Cleveland, played at Wisconsin, and has experience coaching at Michigan State previously, as well as Ohio State, the Cleveland Browns, and the Chicago Bears.
He is also very much a careerist, as many if not the majority of college football coaches are. And with that being the reality, harping against unpaid players making tough decisions to leave their playing situations to find better ones, when you will jump at a higher paying job every year or two, is nothing short of rank hypocrisy.