Hard feelings aside, Mel Tucker is fully installed as Michigan State's head coach.
The Spartans introduced Tucker on Wednesday and approved his whopper of a contract: 6 years, $5.5 million per.
That average salary more than doubles what Colorado paid him in 2019 (his 5-year contract averaged out at $2.95 million per year); Tucker will earn more in the first three years of his Michigan State contract than the entirety of his Colorado deal... and he'll still have three years under contract after that.
Not only that, Tucker will earn $1+ million more per year than Tom Izzo. Izzo has won 623 games and counting in 25 seasons as Michigan State's head coach, Tucker has won zero. Leverage is one helluva drug if you can get your hands on it.
When combined with his personal history with Michigan State -- Mel and his wife JoEllyn became engaged while he was a GA on Nick Saban's MSU staff -- I think everyone understands Tucker's decision to leave. Who among us is going to turn down a better job at double our current salary? And, yeah, the timing is tough, but Tucker didn't force Mark Dantonio to wait until February to do what should've been done in December.
But the hard-to-swallow part of this is the way it was handled.
Michigan State first reached out last week, at which point Tucker turned them down and redoubled his commitment to Colorado.
That was before Luke Fickell turned Michigan State down, which ultimately led the Spartans to double back to Tucker with a Godfather of a contract offer.
According to Tucker's own words, that happened Monday.
On Tuesday, Tucker was out asking the public and donors to continue supporting him and Colorado. See this tweet from Boulder Daily Camera writer Brian Howell sent late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning:
“It’s always flattering when a school reaches out to you and has interest," Tucker said Tuesday, hours before taking the Michigan State job. "I feel like we must doing something right here to garner that type of attention. I’m really excited about being here. These things happen in this business. I was able to release a statement to really express how I feel about CU and what we’re doing here. I try not to speculate too much on rumors and innuendo and things like that.”
The picture referenced here (now deleted) was taken Tuesday night.
We don't know the inner-workings of the negotiations between Michigan State and Tucker, and only he knows when he ultimately decided to trade black and gold for green and white.
But pitching support for Colorado in public while negotiating for Michigan State in private is duplicitous at best and outright deceptive at worst.
Again, Tucker couldn't have known last week that Michigan State would circle back to him again with a better offer days later, and at a base level most everyone understands why Tucker took it.
But you've got to cancel your public appearances at that point.
That alone will change the way Tucker is thought of in Colorado, basically forever. Until Tuesday night, public perception mattered tremendously to him -- in fact, it was the entire basis of his rebuilding program. Who knows if Tucker still felt the same way by Wednesday morning.
As I wrote yesterday, none of this will determine whether or not he succeeds in East Lansing. Tucker has a better job, and he's got a life-changing contract, and he'll have to live with the choices he made just before he got them.