| FTBL Mel Tucker - Mich. State: UPDATE: "We Were Hoodwinked': Inside the Final Hours of Mel Tucker as Colorado's Head Coach"

TideatMileHigh

Sideline Club
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Messages
222
Reaction score
162
Points
0
This is good. The city of Boulder must suffer for being the world's largest loony asylum.
 

alabama mike

Probably At A Ballgame
Crimson Tide Club
Joined
Jun 24, 2009
Messages
8,573
Reaction score
2,500
Points
0

TerryP

Cenosillicaphobiac
Ivory Club
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
42,691
Reaction score
9,981
Points
0
After Mel's playing time at Wisky his first gig was a GA at MSU.

Easy assumption that weighs in here, right?
 

planomateo

Thread Starter
Ivory Club
Joined
Sep 5, 2006
Messages
31,449
Reaction score
6,588
Points
0
I'm struggling to understand how a GA position back in the late 90s for a season or two matter. He was a peon.

If that carries weight with Michigan State, they have bigger problems. Same for Mel. He's doing this for the money and opportunity to further his career. The timing of things is where I'm in disagreement, but this is what college athletics has become and I'm just not a fan of this part of the business.
 

rick4bama

Bama Fan since 1965 and counting....
Scholarship Club
Joined
Oct 16, 2004
Messages
15,212
Reaction score
2,491
Points
0
so when will he start trying to get any Bama Coaches?
 

17Champs

Extra Point Club
Joined
Aug 23, 2005
Messages
877
Reaction score
300
Points
0

At a Colorado donor event he organized Tuesday night, Tim Harrington expected the featured guest to be his normal self—fiery, intense, gregarious—but that wasn’t necessarily the case. In fact, Mel Tucker spoke at such a low pitch that the hum of a nearby mini fridge almost drowned him out. “The whole thing was surreal,” Harrington says during an interview with Sports Illustrated. “I know he knew exactly what he was doing the next day.”

Tucker’s final hours as Colorado’s head coach are becoming clearer, and while it’s not rare for college coaching transitions to have some bizarre elements, the situation that transpired this week in the Rocky Mountains is one of the strangest.

While working toward a deal Tuesday night to become Michigan State's head coach, Tucker spoke to more than two dozen Colorado boosters and fans at a fundraising event at the Denver Country Club, soliciting their donations while expressing his commitment to the program. Sipping on his trademark Scotch and water, Tucker paraded through a reception of big-money Buff Club members in a plush, window-lined room, eventually delivering a speech and taking questions. He spoke about his passion for Colorado, described his reasons for accepting the job 14 months before and expressed excitement in the future, built around the high school players he had signed a week ago.

Tucker conveyed to supporters his “full intentions to be at CU,” says Bob Masten, a tight end for Colorado from 1969–71 and a Denver-based businessman who attended the event. In fact, when exiting the club, Masten told Tucker he was looking forward to seeing him again in a couple weeks at another donor gathering on Feb. 25. “Yeah,” Masten said Tucker told him, “that’d be great.”

Harrington, 62, spoke one-on-one with Tucker throughout the night. “The thing ended and I was talking to him and looking him in the eye,” says Harrington, a 62-year-old Denver native and Colorado graduate. “I swear to God after the event I said, ‘There is something going on.’ His eyes were not … it was almost like he wasn’t telling the truth. It was bizarre.”

An hour later, Tucker struck a deal with Michigan State to be its new coach. “We were hoodwinked,” says Craig Poulter, 60, a longtime CU season ticketholder and Colorado native who was there Tuesday. “Mel misled us. I believed in him.”Harrington and five others who attended that event Tuesday night spoke to SI, one of them on anonymity, about Tucker’s exit. The manner of his departure has left those at CU angry, frustrated and disappointed. Tucker originally rejected strong interest last weekend from the Spartans, even tweeting a commitment message on Saturday. Less than four days later and 18 hours after that donor event, the Michigan State football Twitter account posted an eight-second video message of Tucker seated in a private jet bound for Michigan. “Can’t wait to see you in East Lansing,” he said in the clip. “Go Green!”

Please, Log in or Register to view quote(s).
Tucker, a disciple of Nick Saban and a longtime college and NFL defensive coordinator, returned to his roots. He’s an Ohio native who played at Wisconsin and started his coaching career at Michigan State as a graduate assistant under Saban. Michigan State more than doubled his $2.7 million annual pay and provided him with a $6 million staff salary pool, roughly twice what he had in Boulder. After just one season running his own program—a 5–7 result at that—the 48-year-old went from being the ninth-highest paid coach in the Pac 12 to the 12th-highest paid coach in the nation.

Why MSU officials would dole out such a hefty contract—and length too, at six years—can only be explained by their situation.

The Spartans found themselves in a bind when longtime coach Mark Dantonio announced his retirement so late in the hiring cycle, Feb. 4, a day before National Signing Day. Things got worse after at least two prominent candidates turned down interest: Tucker on Feb. 8, a Saturday, and Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, the day afterward on Sunday. Fickell was widely believed to be Michigan State's primary target, and when that fell through the school was in a desperate position. On Monday, MSU re-engaged with Tucker, something that Colorado school officials learned later that day—not from Tucker. CU athletic director Rick George was not given an opportunity to make a counter offer, even though the situation was unlikely to change. With a wallet fattened by more than $50 million in annual conference revenue, the Spartans have considerably more financial wherewithal than the Buffaloes.

Reached for comment on the timeline of events, Michigan State officials referred to athletic director Bill Beekman’s comments from earlier in the week. At some point, MSU interviewed Tucker in person but did not offer him the job. According to a story at mlive.com, Beekman offered Tucker the job Monday. Negotiations continued Tuesday until, according to Beekman, they had a deal in place by 9 p.m. MT, or about one hour after Tucker left the event at the Denver Country Club. Beekman said Tucker accepted the job at 10:50 a.m. MT on Wednesday. Michigan State officials declined further comment Sunday.

Tucker, George and others at CU involved in this ordeal were, in a way, victims of timing. This all played out over a stretch of days that included previously scheduled fundraising functions, media events and a hospital visit. George underwent back surgery on Monday. Last weekend, Tucker, George and other school administrators were part of a three-day tour of booster gatherings in Southern California, where at one point Tucker called Colorado a “destination football job.”



1581873801521.png 1581873830075.png

On Tuesday, with that offer in hand from Michigan State, Tucker did three interviews with prominent Denver radio personalities, including Dave Logan and Alfred Williams, two former CU football greats, as well as Scott Hastings. He wasn't eager to do the interviews, said a source familiar with the situation, but they had been previously scheduled and Tucker had good relationships with all three hosts. “Listening back, in hindsight, I think there were some signs,” Hastings said in an interview Saturday. “I think losing an assistant to Tennessee [defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh], and the inability to pay enough to keep his staff, that bothered him. But he said he wanted to be here, and I took him at his word. I thought he would be at CU. Then, five or six hours after the show, someone who is in the know called me and said, 'Mel's back in play.’”

While on with Logan, Tucker hemmed and hawed through answers to two questions about his commitment to Colorado, at one point saying “I'm really excited about being here.” Then came Tuesday night at the Denver Country Club, an event Tucker attended while his agent was finalizing his new contract with the Spartans.

“It’s almost unbelievable he showed up at that event,” says Don Bechter, a Colorado supporter who lives in Denver and attended Tuesday’s function. “It was really disappointing, a bit like a betrayal. You hate to take these sports things personally, but he was a guy you really wanted to believe in. He seemed to be genuine.”


Harrington laughably refers to Tuesday’s event as "the last supper." It ran from 6 to 8 p.m. local time and was set in the swanky Fairway Room in the club’s east wing. The Denver Country Club bills itself as the oldest country club west of the Mississippi River, and its interior is themed in a vintage décor. Along with a golf course, club members have access to indoor and outdoor tennis courts, an Olympic-sized pool, a croquet and lawn bowling pitch and an outdoor skating rink. On its website, the club identifies the appropriate dress codes for social and dining experiences as well as golf and tennis.

More than a year ago, Harrington hosted one of Tucker’s first booster events as coach in the very same space used Tuesday night. This week's gathering had a different feel. At least three school athletic administrators were present at the function Tuesday, not including George, who was recovering from that surgical procedure to his back. Sensing that something was amiss before the event, at least one administrator reaffirmed with Tucker his commitment not only to the school but also the event. The coach assured them he was “all in,” says a person with knowledge of the talks. “He’s standing there knowing 30 minutes later he was going to accept or already did accept another job,” another attendee at the event said. “I think as he stood in front of that room, a deal was already done.”

During Michigan State’s first attempt to land Tucker, the coach showed transparency with school officials, and they eventually agreed to a joint announcement on social media: Tucker’s tweet on Saturday, followed by a retweet from George.

1581873884986.png

During Michigan State’s second foray, Tucker was no longer transparent. While recovering from surgery, George learned of the latest interest in his coach from a third party. “Rick knew about what had transpired before our function was over,” Harrington says. “I don’t know how Rick found out but I’m sure somebody tipped him off. It wasn’t Mel.” By the time George figured out what was happening, there was nothing he could do to change Tucker's course.

Tucker’s tweet on Feb. 8 announcing his commitment to Colorado remains on his Twitter page, creating an odd juxtaposition with a slew of recent posts regarding his new job. However, there is one tweet that has been removed from social media—a picture and message from Tucker’s appearance at the Denver Country Club event, tweeted at 6:38 p.m. by @CUBuffClub, the official account of the fundraising arm for Colorado athletics. SI obtained a screen grab of the tweet.

1581873940869.png

Tucker is an affable man who normally wins over a room with his energy and booming voice, but Harrington described him as “low key” on this night. After about 30 minutes of drinking cocktails and snacking on hors ‘devours, attendees gathered in a semi-circle to listen to Tucker give a speech and take questions. Toward the end of the Q-and-A, Bechter asked Tucker about Michigan State’s pursuit of him, now three days old. “Man, I was hoping somebody didn’t get to that subject,” Tucker said, according to Harrington.

Tucker’s answer was winding, touching on the loss of Brumbaugh, a key assistant that Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt plucked away with a significant raise. “That was disappointing,” Harrington says Tucker told the crowd, “but he made twice as much money so who could blame him?” It was a somewhat chilling line that some folks would utter about Tucker himself hours later. Tucker milled around with attendees until about 8 p.m., at which point he left with Lance Carl, an associate athletic director who drove Tucker the 30 miles back to Boulder. About three hours later, at 11:13 p.m. MT, The Athletic broke news that Tucker had agreed to become Michigan State’s next coach.

“I can understand any person reviewing their options and making a decision that financially benefits them,” says Tom Coxhead, a 61-year-old CU booster and financial adviser in Denver. “I thought to myself as a financial adviser, if he were a client of mine of how I would have advised him. I would have been hard pressed to say, ‘Don’t take it.’ What bothered me so much is he was standing in that room and misleading people.”


Harrington awoke to the news at 5 a.m. and joined his morning workout group an hour later, many of whom attended the country club event. “Everybody is going ‘Holy s---, what just happened?’” says Harrington, who works in commercial real-estate business. “My first thought in my head was ‘Damn, those poor kids.’ He lied to those kids and their families. I feel bad for the Michigan State folks. I don’t think you have somebody with good character there.”

Masten’s wife woke him with the news: Tucker’s leaving, she told him. “I said, ‘What?!’” the ex-Buffalo player recalls.

Poulter has written an extensive letter meant for Tucker, but his wife, because of its language, will not allow him to send it, he says. “I want to tell Mel thank you for being the person you are and providing me the opportunity to share with my son of how not to live life from an ethics and integrity standpoint,” says Poulter, his voice rising during an interview Saturday with SI. “He talked to us about integrity. What the hell does he do? He does it in the dark of the night, and he’s on a plane out. I see him today on (ESPN basketball) GameDay and he’s God’s gift to the world. He talks about building that program with integrity. How do you do that? Those at the event, we are a small representation of Buffs nation. The manner in which he left is a slap in the face to all of us.”


Harrington, meanwhile, has a parting gift for his old coach. Harrington’s father-in-law gave him an idea: send the bill from Tuesday night’s event to the guy with the new job and fancy, big contract.

“I’m going to do that,” Harrington says, “as I think he can afford it!”
 

BamaBoyJosh

Verified Member
Scholarship Club
Joined
Jul 15, 2006
Messages
21,991
Reaction score
2,546
Points
0
Tucker handled this whole thing just about as bad as you possibly could.

From what I can gather, it seems like he was under the impression that his buddy (Fickel) was going to accept the job, so he publicly removed his name from the running to get some bonus points with the CU fanbase. Then when Fickel turned it down the offer was just far too good to turn down. I dont fault him for leaving at all, the way he did it was just really piss poor. Very reminiscent to the Saban-Miami situation. He has the opportunity to learn from it or just become that type of person/coach.
 

rammerjammer

Gump 4ever
Scholarship Club
Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Messages
13,346
Reaction score
450
Points
0
Please, Log in or Register to view quote(s).
I think with media (all forms), the only way these situations can go, are from bad to worse. Everybody is a "reporter" this day and age. Everyone has a camera in their pocket and between: message boards, twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat.......etc,etc,etc,etc,etc...... This crap gets leaked. Mel did what Mel thought was best for him and his family. He was put in a tough situation and tried to do what was right for CU, but ultimately did what was best for Mel. The CU fan base reminds me a lot of the Bama fan base after Fran bolted on us. It sucks getting left at the alter, but it happens.

Like you said, this is very reminiscent of Saban leaving Miami. He was trying to do his job and finish out the season, the reporter basically had Saban pigeon holed and he made the famous statement, "I'm not going to be the next coach at Alabama". We have all left jobs for better ones. It is what we do.
 

TerryP

Cenosillicaphobiac
Ivory Club
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
42,691
Reaction score
9,981
Points
0
Please, Log in or Register to view quote(s).
I don't see the comparison. You didn't have Saban telling Huizenga he was staying at Miami and then the next morning leaving. Quite the opposite, in fact.

In my view I'd say it's eerily similar to fRan in that Tucker told fans and those covering CU football he was coming back the night before he left. fRan did the same thing when asked legitimate questions about his A&M interest.

On a different note...

I'm as close to being convinced as I've ever been that no matter how, or when, a coach leaves for a better job he's going to be vilified. There is no ideal time in fans eyes (unless it was yesterday.)
 

planomateo

Thread Starter
Ivory Club
Joined
Sep 5, 2006
Messages
31,449
Reaction score
6,588
Points
0
Please, Log in or Register to view quote(s).
Apples and oranges. As far as I know, "we" don't announce on twitter that we're committed, "we" don't lie to people in the program selling them a commitment, "we" don't lie to people that gave us the job.

Sure "we" leave jobs for better ones, but the circumstances are much much different...and that's the story here.
 

rammerjammer

Gump 4ever
Scholarship Club
Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Messages
13,346
Reaction score
450
Points
0
Please, Log in or Register to view quote(s).

True, but no one gives a rat's ass that I'm leaving the ER to go and work in a clinic setting. Truth be told, our lives aren't that interesting to folks out side our family/friend circle. Until we have lived in that fish-bowl, it is really hard to criticize folks that are under the microscope and "attempting" to do the right thing verses what is best for them.
 

planomateo

Thread Starter
Ivory Club
Joined
Sep 5, 2006
Messages
31,449
Reaction score
6,588
Points
0
Please, Log in or Register to view quote(s).
I don't see it that way. It's more about the how and not the what.

Mel Tucker appears to have read the Willie Taggart book How to Make an Exit.

Perhaps Mel Tucker is merely a victim of really bad timing and he was committed. Only Mel Tucker knows the answer to this.

Overall, just a bad look from my perspective. But hey, kudo's to him for doubling his salary and getting to a better program. Now he's gonna have to look more people in the eye and sell them he's committed.
 

TerryP

Cenosillicaphobiac
Ivory Club
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
42,691
Reaction score
9,981
Points
0
Please, Log in or Register to view quote(s).
The optics are not good even with the limited view we have of the whole picture.
Please, Log in or Register to view quote(s).
If a coach moves to another job in December.
The kids should be released from the NLI, he just recruited them.
If a coach leaves after signing day.
Same response.
If a coach leaves after spring camp? In the summer? Right before the season? During the season?

I don't see a winning situation all throughout the year when it comes to fans perceptions. UNLESS it's a coach who they wanted gone in the first place.
 

Top Bottom