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Mel Tucker’s contract: Michigan State takes a risk by overpaying its coach in hopes of raising program prominence

Mel Tucker is overpaid. The man himself had to admit it. Before completing his third season as head coach — his second at Michigan State — Tucker was currently the second highest-paid coach in the game.

Nick Saban is number 1, and there are those who would argue that the only similarities between the two are their contract, their agent (Jimmy Sexton) and Tucker’s former work for the great Alabama coach. They can now buy their own Mercedes dealers. Wait, Saban co-owns six of those, equal to the number of championships he’s won at Alabama.

It’s an indicator that Tucker needs to do, you know, in the area where these big contracts are supposed to be. In case you haven’t noticed in the coaching profession, the salary often far outweighs the achievement.

The reaction to Tucker’s contract in the college athletics community was somewhere between excitement and shock. Tucker will take in $95 million from Michigan State over the next 10 years.

Good for him, but at least Bobby Bowden won the national championship by becoming the first $1 million coach in 1995. So did Steve Spurrier when he became the first coach to win. $2 million a year later.

Tucker 16-14 as head coach during his career. Just 21 months ago, he left Colorado after a season where he went 5-7. His biggest achievement at Spartyland was becoming the first Michigan State coach to win Michigan 2-0 in an instant while his program competed for a Big Ten title and College football Playoff berth in November.

He signed an extension on Wednesday after losing two of his last three games, at Purdue with 11 (MSU entered as favorites) and at Ohio State with… 49.

For a while, Tucker’s return run, Kenneth Walker III, was the Heisman Trophy’s favorite. Walker should win the Doak Walker Award (best run back).

His trainer can afford to buy a really nice flashcard congratulating him.

We can joke about the weird salaries of coaches, but this is just weird-ish. With the contract, the boosters that sponsored it are telling the world that the effort is not just about winning championships. This is about being Michigan. No, Ohio State. No, this is about being Alabama.

For the State of Michigan, that’s the price of (attempting) greatness. Tucker qualified. The man has a long resume that includes NFL experience, the Big Ten is tight-lipped and serves as a defensive coordinator under the direction of Saban and Kirby Smart.

Michigan State’s turnaround this season has been remarkable.

But is he a $95 million coach? We will find out.

This expansion vortex is also our US market at work. Demand for good coaches is outstripping supply. So you see inflation. There have been five coaches awarding 10-year contracts this year, three of the past three weeks – Tucker, Jeff Traylor of UTSA and James Franklin of Penn State.

“The scarcity of elite coaches for those at the top,” explains one Power Five sporting director, is the reason for these deals. “So if you have a guy you trust, lock him up. Otherwise, searching in this market is a loss.”

In other words, all coaching perspectives are taken into account to the extent that Dave Aranda (less than two years head coach experience) is a hot name at both LSU and USC. Nothing against Aranda, who looks like the next coaching superstar, but not so quietly, what was once a two-year extension has now become a 10-year extension.

“Schools are more willing to sign a longer-term contract if they feel they have the right head coach,” said Liberty AD Ian McCaw. “Traditionally, they’re 4 and 5 year contracts. Now you’re seeing 7, 8, even 10 year contracts.”

McCaw this week extended Hugh Freeze two years through 2028 but averages over $4 million a year. That would be at or near the highest annual salary for a non-Power Five coach.

Is it our personal responsibility or none of our business?

Saban is one of the few coaches in the country who actually earns his huge sums. His success has contributed to increased enrollment, upgraded campus facilities, and improved academic record for Alabama.

Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz Received $500,000 in Winnings eighth game. There are people who have pointed out that Franklin has gone 11-9 in the last two years and has a Big Ten title in eight seasons. He now earns $7.5 million per year on an additional $1 million life insurance loan.

Those observations are fair. It’s also fair to say the Land Grant Trophy is for the winner of the Michigan State vs. Penn State on Saturday, should be sponsored by Rocket Mortgage. Both sports divisions could be banking their futures on aggregated, $170 million 20-year contracts.

We should pause here and celebrate the fact that Tucker has become the highest-paid Black coach ever in American sport. He beats Stanford coach David Shaw.

In the trenches of negotiation, Sexton has reactivated his magic. The super dealer doesn’t just know the market, he owns it. There wasn’t even an open door at Michigan State, and Sexton blew the lid off. Think about what he would do to get his clients involved in LSU and USC.

Ads cannot help themselves with Sexton. Tucker’s name appeared at LSU. Sources tell CBS Sports he will be interviewing at some point. Maybe that’s all the great Sexton needed to leverage, the idea of ​​an interview. In the end, he convinced Texas A&M to fully secure the original $75 million deal to Jimbo Fisher for 10 years. In August, TAMU gave Fisher a contract extension after he went 26-10 in his first three seasons.

They’re all well-paid, almost any head coach at the Power Five level. When you earn (more) than the school’s president, it raises questions about an institution’s priorities. But we passed that mark about 50 years ago. No one blinked after that. Why start now?

Maybe it’s because Tucker than pay more than most.

Again, he will probably admit it, but as Bill Parcells once said, you deserve what someone will pay you.

Tucker is worth it. Only zero quantifies any resentment that exists. Critics jumped down Knute Rockne’s throats when he made $75,000 at the time of his death in 1931. In today’s dollars, that would equal $1.2 million.

Tucker is doing eight times that. How times have changed – or stayed the same.

Legend has it that Bear Bryant left Kentucky for Alabama because he had a lighter one year while Kentucky basketball coach Adolph Rupp got a Cadillac for his achievement.

Tucker joined a club anyway. Now comes the hard part: winning.

The money boosters that are sponsoring this contract will be looking forward to the championship. They will not be alone. The state of Michigan can no longer hide like old Little Brother in East Lansing, Michigan. It was a swaggering and excellent money trumpet.

First, you have to win the championship – beat Michigan not just next year but every year. That is a good start. Being Alabama is the ultimate expectation.

For now, Walker can look forward to that truly impressive flashcard.

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