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Michigan State Spartans will not play in a 2020 bowl game

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Michigan State v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

In relatively unsurprising, but now official news, the Michigan State Spartans will not compete in a bowl game for the 2020 season. This will be the first time since 2016 that the Spartans will not play in a bowl game, and just the second time in the past 14 seasons.

Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker finishes his first season in East Lansing with a 2-5 record, but the 2020 football season will always be looked at with a giant asterisk due to the complications and challenges the COVID-19 pandemic caused. Overall, while things didn’t always go as planned, Michigan State walks away with a win over the then No. 12-ranked Michigan Wolverines, as well as a victory over then No. 8-ranked Northwestern Wildcats. The Spartans were blown out by Iowa, Indiana and Ohio State, while also losing games to Rutgers and Penn State.

Here is what Tucker had to say regarding the end of the season (per msuspartans.com):

“First and foremost, I would like to thank our medical staff for everything they have done for our program this season. We were extremely fortunate and grateful to have had the opportunity to play football this fall.

“We have decided as a program that the best decision for our team is to prepare for the 2021 season. I’m proud of the players for the way they handled themselves during this difficult and challenging year. They endured a season unlike any we have had before and worked hard to remain diligent in following all of our safety protocols. Our players have been on campus since re-arriving in June and deserve the chance to go home and take some time away from football.

“Even though our season has come to a close, the time that we have had to work with the players in practice and coach in games has been invaluable for us in establishing our culture. We’re looking forward to relentlessly working this offseason in preparation for the 2021 season. The future is bright for Michigan State football. Go Green!”

It is unclear whether or not Michigan State was actually invited to any bowl games this year, given that there were no minimum requirements to qualify for a bowl game, or if this is truly the program deciding to opt-out.

The above quote from Tucker is a stark contrast from what he said earlier in the week regarding bowl games, in which Tucker said he and the Michigan State program “would love to play” if invited to a game:

“If we were asked to play, I would love to play,” Tucker said on a Zoom call on Dec 15. “I want to play, I want to practice, I want to compete. I want to get more practice time with our guys and keep developing our guys, just seeing how far we can take this team and what this team can become before we turn the page to our offseason conditioning program and then lead them to spring ball and things like that. I want to play as much as possible.

“I’m used to coaching a lot more football and used to playing a lot more games than this. So, shoot, if we can get we get anything going, I’d love the play, man. If we can play a pickup game going unofficially somewhere, I’d do that. We need to play football.”

Perhaps the coaches and players changed their minds, and wanted to spend the holidays with family, or perhaps Michigan State simply wasn’t invited to one of the few bowl games available.

Meanwhile, Bill Beekman, Michigan State’s athletic director also made a statement:

“I’d like to thank Coach Mel Tucker, his staff, and most importantly our student-athletes for competing hard throughout the year. In a season unlike any other, with more than its fair share of adversity, our team maintained its focus and fought each day to get better, while having the opportunity to coach and play the game they love. Our sports medicine team did an outstanding job taking care of our student-athletes and staff, whom should also be commended for their adherence to strict medical protocols and procedures. Their diligence gave us an opportunity to play each and every week.

“There are many positives to take away from this year and build on for the future, and I know Coach Tucker and his team are already looking forward to an offseason of improvement and preparation for 2021. There’s an exciting future ahead for Spartan football.”

We are already starting to see many changes to the roster heading into 2021, including transfers both coming in and out of the program, a solid 2021 recruiting class that will likely still add more players to it, and a few players who have declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. Tucker is starting to build the team the way he envisions it.

Here’s to looking forward to seeing ore progress in 2021.