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Here's how Mel Tucker is spending his $6 million assistant salary pool

Michigan State gave Mel Tucker a Godfather offer to leave Colorado for Michigan State, and that bag was accompanied by a bag of its own.

On top of his own $5.5 million starting salary, Tucker was given $6 million to fill out his 10 on-the-field assistant coaching slots. For context, Michigan State gave Mark Dantonio $4.9 million to fill the same slots in 2019 -- that's a near 25 percent increase in the span of a year.

Tucker has now set his initial staff's salaries, which will break out as follows according to multiplereports Friday (2019 salaries represent what each coach earned at their place of employment, not what Michigan State paid that same slot last year):


2019 Salary

2020 Salary


Jay Johnson (OC)



$425,000 (77%)

Scottie Hazelton (DC)



$400,000 (73%)

Chris Kaplovic (OL/RGC)



$275,000 (65%)

Mike Tressel (S)



-$57,615 (-8%)

Ron Burton (DL)



$48,000 (10%)

Ted Gilmore (TEs)



$105,000 (27%)

Harlon Barnett (DBs)



-$500,000 (-51%)

Ross Els (STC)



$225,000 (90%)

Courtney Hawkins (WRs)




William Peagler (RBs)




In all, six assistants will earn at least half a million dollars in 2020, and eight are near that number. It's not Clemson's nine, but it's close.

The only coaches to experience losses from 2019 to 2020 are Tressel and Barnett, who are transitioning from coordinator roles back to position coaches. (Tressel was Michigan State's defensive coordinator, incidentally.)

The biggest gainer in real dollars was offensive coordinator Jay Johnson, who banked an extra $425,000 in following his boss from Boulder to East Lansing. Tucker himself will earn an extra $3.1 million in 2020 alone.

The biggest raise by percentage went to Els, who also joined from Colorado. (Previously salary information for Hawkins and Peagler was not available. Hawkins worked as the head coach at Beecher High School in Flint, Mich., and Peegler was a quality control assistant at Colorado.)

Defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton comes in just behind his offensive counterpart; their identical salaries at Colorado and Kansas State, respectively, and near-identical takes at Michigan State perfectly illustrate the gap between the middle- and upper-classes of so-called "peer" institutions inside the Power 5 conferences.

Look at it this way: Hazelton will make in 2020 the exact same dollar figure that he and offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham earned combined last year at K-State.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.