With Fickell Out Of Picture, Where Does MSU Turn Now?

"We're going to get a good football coach."

97.1 The Ticket
February 10, 2020 - 1:51 pm

Michigan State's search for Mark Dantonio's successor took some big blows over the weekend. The biggest came Monday morning when Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell, who interviewed Sunday, turned down the job

That was after the Spartans got the same response from Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi, Colorado head coach Mel Tucker and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. So...now what?

Dantonio remains a part of the search, Tom Izzo told reporters Monday. Izzo, who's part of the search himself, also said this: "We're going to get a good football coach." So let's take a look at who might be next on the school's list.

We also shouldn't rule out the possibility MSU hands over the reins for 2020 to acting head coach Mike Tressel. It's believed the school wants a new coach in place by the time the Board of Trustees meets on Friday. 

Brett Bielema

Bielema has a long history in the Big Ten, including a successful run as head coach at Wisconsin from 2006-12. And he has 'definite interest' in the opening at MSU, according to the Free Press. Bielema, who was also head coach at Arkansas from 2013-17, recently joined the New York Giants as linebackers coach, but it sounds he'd audible to East Lansing if the opportunity presented itself. 

Pat Shurmur

Speaking of the Giants, the team's former head coach is said to be on MSU's radar. Shurmur just joined the Broncos as the team's defensive coordinator, so a switch to MSU wouldn't be an easy sell. But Shurmur's a Dearborn native, an MSU alumn and he spent his first 10 years in the coaching business with the Spartans from 1988-97. He's been in the NFL since 1999. 

Jim McElwain

The current head coach at Central Michigan, McElwain has experience at big-time programs -- including at Michigan State from 2003-05. He was also offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008-11 and head coach at Florida from 2015-17. He led the Chippewas to eight wins in his first season at Central, a seven-win improvement from the year prior. 

Chris Creighton

Another in-state candidate, Creighton has built a strong track record at Eastern Michigan. He's led the Eagles to a bowl game in three of the last four seasons, no small accomplishment for a program that had played in just one bowl game in the prior 40 years. The knock on Creighton in this case, and the same on McElwain, is his lack of Midwest ties.