A new era for Michigan State football

COVID-19 is going to change the way college football is played for at least a while. Another change coming to college football is the playstyle for Michigan State football. When Mark Dantonio unexpectedly announced his retirement on Feb. 4, the Spartans were in urgent need to find his replacement.

At first, the rumor mill churned out ideas of assistant coach Mike Tressel taking over, then another potential candidate was Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell until he denied the offer and stayed with the Bearcats. With the Spartans losing hope, one more coach caught the attention - a guy who was the coach for the Colorado Buffaloes for just a single season. That man was Coach Mel Tucker.

While Tucker was only head coach for the Buffaloes for one season, he has a 23-year-long coaching arsenal to back him up. Tucker, who was a linebacker at Wisconsin, started his coaching career as an graduate assistant for the Spartans under the legendary Nick Saban. He coached in the NFL for 12 years as well. He was interim coach for Jacksonville Jaguars before going to Colorado for his first time as a head coach.

Spartan nation will definitely miss Coach D’s style of coaching with all the wonderful trick​ plays like the “Little Giants” fake field goal against Notre Dame in 2010 and his famous “Go Green” tagline after each interview. Coach Tucker has said in many interviews that Michigan State will focus on being mentally and physically tough while he is in the driver seat for the Spartans.

“Our program is built in the weight room,” Tucker said during a press conference. He wants Michigan State to play fast, stating that “players play fast when they know what they are doing.”

Coach Tucker is going to be very defensive minded, considering he has played on that side of the ball for most of his career. During his season with the Buffaloes, he had the defense running a 3-4 scheme. The Spartans under Dantonio usually ran a 4-3 style defensive, so if Tucker sticks to his guns, we may see a new change for how Sparty usually plays on the defensive side.

Dominant teams like Alabama, Georgia and Notre Dame run a 3-4 defensive style as well, so this is a great sign. The important thing to remember about the 3-4 defensive is it means more linebackers, and more linebackers means more athletes and more speed.

The bigger issue however is the changes that will come on the offensive side. Under Coach D, the Spartans stayed primarily dominant on the defensive side, but the offensive progressively declined each year after our fantastic 2014 season.

Although Tucker has said he likes the same run game that can control the clock like Dantonio did, it will be refreshing to see what Tucker and new offensive coordinator Jay Johnson have to offer when Michigan State football eventually gets back to playing.