Michigan State and coach Mel Tucker have agreed to a historic 10-year, $95 million contract extension that makes the second-year Spartans leader the highest-paid Black coach in sports. Though the program did not send official word of the signing Wednesday night, Tucker tweeted his appreciation to Michigan State for the deal.
With the coaching carousel beginning earlier than ever thanks to the early signing period, Tucker’s name had come up in connection to top vacant college football jobs around the country — most notably LSU, where he was an assistant under Nick Saban in 2000. He was also considered a potential candidate for NFL head coaching gigs this offseason.
The extension is a massive show of force for a program hoping to remain on the national stage. Tucker’s $9.5 million annual deal trails only Saban’s $9.75 million annual contract at Alabama. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher are other contemporaries in the same range.
During an appearance on “The Draymond Green Show“, Tucker addressed the extension talks: “I always made it clear that I thought Michigan State was a destination job, not a stepping stone. I have Big Ten roots. Played at Wisconsin. I’m from Cleveland, Ohio. My parents are 3 hours and 15 minutes away. My wife is from Chicago. I know the Big Ten landscape. This is where I started my career as a graduate assistant for Nick Saban. Michigan State is a special place for me. It was never my intention to come here and just pass through. I believe that we’re building something special here, and I have tremendous support here, and we’re on the right track.”
In his second season since taking over for Mark Dantonio, Tucker has led the No. 12 Spartans to a 9-2 record, including a win over rival Michigan. Tucker is the first coach in Michigan State history to beat Michigan in each of his first two seasons. Among this season’s highlights for MSU are transfer running back Kenneth Walker III has become a Heisman Trophy candidate while the Spartans rank among the top 20 in rush defense.
The contract matches the lucrative extension Texas A&M paid Fisher in September, which is similarly expected to keep Fisher from being a feasible candidate for LSU. Earlier this week, Penn State signed James Franklin to a 10-year, $75 million contract extension (plus $1 million in a life insurance loan annually).
At $9.5 million per year, Tucker’s salary passes other notable Black coaches, including Mike Tomlin for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics. Rivers previously led all Black coaches at $8 million a year.