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Colorado Buffaloes Football: Mel Tucker’s rumored interview with Michigan State nothing but business

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The Buffaloes coach says he’s staying in Boulder

Colorado V Utah Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Colorado Buffaloes head coach Mel Tucker has been thrown into the mix of possible options to interview for the vacant Michigan State head coaching position. According to several sources, Tucker is on a short list of candidates to replace exiting Mark Dantonio, who announced his retirement earlier this week.

Tucker, 48, came to CU from Georgia as one of the most experienced assistant coaches in the country. As the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator, he led top 15 defenses in each of his three seasons in Athens under Kirby Smart. Tucker guided the Buffs to a 5-7 record in his first season in Boulder and comes off the most successful signing periods in the past decade for CU.

The news of Tucker’s Michigan State’s rumored interest came as a surprise to many, especially after being on the job for a little over a year. But it’s a reminder of the business aspect present in college athletics. Some of the highest-paid state employees selling their services to the top bidder while the student-athletes they recruit are bound to an institution for no true monetary value.

“Mel has turned heads here with the culture he’s quickly building and recruiting success he’s had, so it’s only natural that programs looking for a coach are going to be taking note,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a statement. “I know he’s committed to the Buffs all the way and we’re committed to supporting the vision he has for our program and winning championships. I’ve said plenty of times that we couldn’t be more excited that Mel is our head coach.”

Despite the consideration from MSU, Tucker reconfirmed his commitment to the program at CU.

Among the names besides Tucker interviewing to replace Dantonio is Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell, who was named AAC coach of the year in 2018.

Tucker, Fickell and Dantonio coached together at Ohio State under Jim Tressel in 2003. Tucker was also as a graduate assistant at Michigan State in 1997 and 1998 under current Alabama coach Nick Saban.

If Tucker did depart for Lansing, Mich., he would owe the University of Colorado a total of $3 million, a higher figure than his $2.6 million salary for the 2020 season. Tucker’s $14.8 million contract with CU goes through the 2023 season.