Mel Tucker is done as head coach of Michigan State football after what has been a stunning few weeks of allegations and revelations at the university. Michigan State provided him with written notice of intent to terminate his contract for cause. The news comes amid MSU’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations against the coach, who less than two years ago signed a 10-year, $95 million contract extension amid an 11-2 run.
The program is reeling — the Spartans were crushed at home in Week 3 by Washington, trailing 35-0 at halftime — but the job will still be a very attractive one. It’s had three AP top-10 finishes in the past nine seasons and is an upper-tier program in a conference drawing in enormous money in the wake of the Big Ten’s massive TV deal.
The job isn’t the first vacancy of the season in the Big Ten (Northwestern is), but this is a much more appealing coaching job. Michigan State is not quite at the level of archrival Michigan, Penn State or Ohio State, but with the conference retiring its divisions, the landscape should be a bit more manageable optically. Expect plenty of Power 5 head coaches to get serious consideration.
Who will get consideration from Power 5 ranks?
Mike Elko, Duke, head coach
Let’s start with one of the coaches I believe Northwestern also would target. The 45-year-old from New Jersey had a terrific debut season in 2022, leading Duke to a 9-4 record. His team, currently ranked No. 18, started out this season with a bang by beating Clemson and is off to a 3-0 start. That’s all wow stuff.
A former Ivy League defensive back, he worked at Fordham, Richmond, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Texas A&M. MSU has a rich basketball history, like Duke, but it’s not as much of a pure basketball school as Duke is — and the ACC doesn’t have the money the Big Ten has. This one could get interesting.
Lance Leipold, Kansas, head coach
Leipold is practically a miracle worker for what he has done in Lawrence, Kan. The 59-year-old from Wisconsin, who won six Division III national titles at Wisconsin-Whitewater before turning Buffalo into an AP Top 25 team, got the Jayhawks into the Top 25 last year after a putrid decade of football in Lawrence. This year, KU’s off to a 3-0 start. This is a call if you’re MSU, you probably have to make because tLeipold is an elite football coach, and he has proven it everywhere he has been.
Chris Klieman, Kansas State, head coach
Leipold’s in-state rival would be a wise choice if he is interested. Klieman and the Wildcats were last year’s Big 12 champions, and although the Big Ten has much better resources than the Big 12, Klieman is working for the same athletic director at K-State that he had when he was winning national titles at North Dakota State. Klieman is considered as good as there is within the conference.
P.J. Fleck, Minnesota, head coach
Word is the Spartans have some interest in Fleck, who has done a nice job bringing a lot of stability to a program that was reeling when he left Western Michigan. The 42-year-old is 46-28 at Minnesota, and that includes an 11-2…