The Lafayette Ledger

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The Lafayette Ledger

The Lafayette Ledger

Michigan State Fires Old Football Head Coach and Hires New Coach

A Football helmet sits with a football, shoulder pads and cleats on a football playing field. (Rich Vintage)

Michigan State’s Previous Head Coaches

Michigan State has hired a new head coach after Mel Tucker, the old head coach, has been fired. Mark Dantonio was the head coach of the Spartans from 2007 until he retired in February of 2020. He had an accumulative record of 132-74(.640). This was the highest win percentage out of all Michigan State head coaches in school history. The Spartans then decided to hire Mel Tucker in 2o20 who was coming off his first season at Colorado as a head coach with a 5-7 record. Tucker began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State in 1997 under Nick Saban. He won national championships while on staff at Ohio State and Alabama and spent a decade coaching in the NFL. He signed a six-year contract in 2020 with an annual salary of $5.5 million, more than double what he made at Colorado, to become the 25th head coach of the Spartans. In his 2020 season, Michigan State finished with a record of 2-5 in conference play. The next season, Running back Kenneth Walker III had one of the greatest individual seasons in program history by rushing for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns and leading Michigan State to an 11-win season and top-10 ranking in the final polls in 2021. Walker became the first Spartan named Walter Camp Player of the Year and to win the Doak Walker Award, which is given to the nation’s top running back. After tucker started the season 8-0, the Spartans decided to extend his contract to 10 years, $95 Million in November of 2021.

Three Michigan State helmets resting on a bench waiting to be used. (Aaron Yoder)

The Firing of Mel Tucker

In September of 2023, Mel Tucker was being investigated for Sexual Assault and put on Administrative leave for two games. Michigan State athletic director Allen Haller suspended Tucker without pay on Sept. 10th when he was accused of his actions. September 27th was the day that Mel Tucker was officially fired from being MSU’s head coach. When Haller suspended Tucker, he named longtime assistant Harlon Barnett acting head coach and brought Mark Dantonio out of retirement to serve as associate head coach. With these events happening, it caused Michigan State to go on a 4-game losing streak and lose their chance to compete for a big-10 championship title. The Spartan’s finished the season with an overall record of 4-8.

Five Spartan players celebrating together after a touchdown. (Andy Krakovski)

Michigan State Hires Jonathan Smith

Following their final game against the Penn State Nittany Lions, a week later, the Spartans hire previous Oregon State head coach, Jonathan Smith to lead their team. Smith, who emerged as MSU’s top choice this week, coached 20th-ranked Oregon State to an 8-4 season, including a 31-7 loss to sixth-ranked Oregon. His record in the last six years was 34-35 with a record of 18-7 in the last two years. Smith had been coaching at Oregon State for the past six seasons but has decided to move to MSU because it has bigger history in the football program and still has great recruits on the roster. It is highly likely that Smith will recruit a few of his old players from Oregon State to come play for the Spartan’s next year. Jonathan Smith will be the 26th head Coach in school history and will be paid $4 million per year for 11 years. Every year he is the head coach, his pay will increase $100,000 and will max out at $1,825,000 bonus. In total, Smith will earn $52 million dollars if he stays at MSU for the full 11 years on his contract.

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