Nick Saban Says Mel Tucker Will Do 'Tremendous Job' At MSU

It's the best endorsement you can get in college football.

97.1 The Ticket
February 12, 2020 - 5:08 pm
Mel Tucker

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

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When Mel Tucker got his first coaching job as a grad assistant at Michigan State from 1997-98, his boss was Nick Saban. Tucker would coach under Saban again at Alabama in 2015 when the Crimson Tide won the national championship. 

And Tucker was reportedly Saban's suggestion when MSU reached out during its search for Mark Dantonio's replacement. 

So when Michigan State made the Tucker hire official on Wednesday, Saban had nothing but good things to say. 

"Mel has made a name for himself as one of the best and brightest coaches in our profession," said Saban, via MSU's website. "I believe he will do a tremendous job as the head coach of the Spartans.

"MSU is getting a guy with infinite class and a great personality, who is smart, works hard, and does it with an incredible amount of enthusiasm and positive energy. Mel is a tireless recruiter who knows the game of college football and understands what it will take to be successful in East Lansing."

Mel Tucker Could Poach Recruiting Giant From Kentucky

Tucker wound up at Alabama after a 10-year stint in the NFL, including stints as defensive coordinator for the Browns, Jaguars and Bears. He coached the defensive backs at Alabama for a season, then moved to Georgia where he served as defensive coordinator for three seasons under Kirby Smart. 

Smart said hiring Tucker was a "top priority" when he took over the Bulldogs in 2016. 

"In his three years at UGA, he was a great coach, trusted friend and colleague, and role model for our players," said Smart. "Mel helped us build the foundation of the program we have at Georgia and I'm confident he'll be a great fit for the Spartans."

MSU Lured Tucker From Colorado With Big-Time Money

Tucker got his first chance as a head coach last year at Colorado. The Buffaloes finished 5-7, but notched two Top-25 wins and also knocked off Washington and Stanford. Like Saban and Smart, Tucker's predecessor is confident he'll have success at Michigan State. 

"Mel is charismatic, brings good energy, and is a very forward thinker," said Mark Dantonio. "He's also an outstanding recruiter who connects with his players, but also holds them accountable. He's from the Midwest and has a Spartan background with knowledge of the Big Ten."