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Tuck Stayin’: Mel Tucker signs massive extension with Michigan State

Just like Paul Bunyan, Mel Tucker is sticking around in East Lansing.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Michigan State Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY Sports

Tuck Comin’. Tuck Winnin’. Tuck Stayin’.

After weeks of speculation and praying from rival fans that Mel Tucker would leave for another gig in the offseason, Michigan State drops the Scrooge McDuck vault on the haters and extends the two-time Paul Bunyan-winning head coach.

After numerous reports of a 10-year, $95 million extension, it is official that Mel Tucker has signed on to stay with Michigan State. The deal makes Tucker one of the highest paid coaches in college football, and the highest-paid Black head coach in American sports.

It’s been reported from the Inside The Locker Room podcast hosted by Jason Strayhorn and Brian Mosallam that billionaire donors Mat Ishbia and Steve St. Andre are the heavy backers of this privately-funded extension. Ishbia — a former Michigan State basketball walk-on — was also responsible for the record-setting $32 million donation last February, as well as the United Wholesale Mortgage partnership with every Spartan football and basketball player. St. Andre is a Michigan State alumnus and currently the CEO of Shift Digital, a digital marketing firm in Birmingham, Michigan.

Tucker has not just turned around a Michigan State program briefly stuck in the doldrums of mediocrity, but he’s done it quicker than anyone could have expected. And it goes far beyond what his teams have done on the field with winning and producing a Heisman candidate in Kenneth Walker III — it’s the relentless recruiting, the emphasis on the transfer portal, branding his team and demanding excellence from every facet of the program. He has built the culture in his vision.

The contract is fully guaranteed according to ESPN. Per Michigan State’s official release, Tucker’s deal includes non-performance related compensation of $9.5 million per year, including a $5.9 million base salary, $3.2 million in supplemental compensation for media and personal appearances, plus a $400,000 contingent annual bonus. The contract expires on January 15, 2032.

As for buyout, it is reportedly the same as his previous contract, which would be just $2.5 million before Jan. 16, 2022, and then decreases by $500,000 every year after that.

The Michigan State Board of Trustees will formally approve the contract at their next meeting, currently scheduled for Dec. 17.

My two cents

This is undoubtedly an aggressive move to make Tucker a top-five — or really top-two at this current point in time, behind only Alabama’s Nick Saban, Tucker’s mentor — paid head coach in the nation, but it shows MSU is here to take football seriously.

And, quite frankly, what’s Plan B? Let a coach who has fast-tracked this rebuild into an established program just get up and leave? And then throw your hat back into the ring of a college coaching search that will be nothing short of bananas this offseason with openings happening left and right?

You let Tucker leave, and you let a guy who has put recruiting and branding in the healthiest place it’s ever been at Michigan State walk out the door. The powers that be and big time donors knew that, and that’s why they backed up the Brinks truck to the Tucker estate.

Could Michigan State go out and lose its last game this season after being embarrassed by Ohio State last weekend to fall to 9-3? It sure could, with a tough matchup against Penn State this weekend, but that won’t change how this should be viewed. Read that record one more time — nine wins and three losses at worst, including another win against Michigan and a spot in a top-tier bowl game. This year has already been a smashing success, and that’s still with the opportunity of a 10-win season, Heisman Trophy winner, Doak Walker Award winner and New Year’s Six bowl all on the table. Imagine thinking any of this would happen when MSU fell to Rutgers last year to start his tenure.

It’s been an incredible rise that’s happened ahead of schedule, and it’s great to see Tucker reap the rewards of what he’s done and will continue to do. It’s well-deserved.