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Michigan State hires Cleveland Heights native Mel Tucker as next head football coach

Tucker also served as defensive coordinator for both the Browns and Ohio State in the past.
Credit: David Zalubowski/AP
FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2019, file photo, Colorado head coach Mel Tucker watches during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Boulder, Colo. Colorado coach Mel Tucker said he's still committed to the Buffaloes, even after the Michigan State job opened earlier in the week. Michigan State's job came open when Mark Dantonio announced his retirement Tuesday. Tucker was a graduate assistant for the Spartans under Nick Saban in the late 1990s.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State has hired coach Mel Tucker away from Colorado to lead Michigan State's football program.

The Buffaloes gave Tucker a shot to run a program a little more than a year ago after he was Georgia's defensive coordinator. They were 5-7 last season.

Tucker succeeds Mark Dantonio, who won a school-record 114 games along with three Big Ten titles over 13 seasons. Dantonio retired less than two weeks ago.

Tucker has ties to Michigan State, where he was on Nick Saban's staff as a graduate assistant in the late 1990s. He went on to work in the NFL and for major programs in college football.

The 48-year-old Tucker, who previously tweeted his desire to stay at Colorado, released the following statement after his hiring was announced:

"It is a blessing and honor to return to Michigan State University where I began my coaching career with Nick Saban. Thank you to President Stanley, Athletic Director Beekman and the Board of Trustees for the trust that you have placed in me to lead one of the finest football programs in the nation.

"Returning home to Michigan State is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and my family but it created the toughest decision of my life—to leave Colorado. There is no way to fully express my gratitude to the Buffalo student-athletes, Rick George, and our staff. I am incredibly thankful for our time together and I will always believe in Colorado football.

"Today, I am excited to get to work for the Spartans. Together, we will be relentless to create an integrity-filled and winning culture for our staff, coaches and student-athletes in everything we do—on and off the field."

Born in Cleveland, Tucker was a star at Cleveland Heights High School before going on to play defensive back for Hall of Fame coach Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin. He later became defensive backs coach at Ohio State under Jim Tressel (helping the team win the 2002 national championship), and was named the team's co-defensive coordinator in 2004. A year later, he was hired to coach the secondary with the Browns before eventually becoming defensive coordinator in 2008, but was fired after that season along with the rest of Romeo Crennel's staff.

Credit: Mark Duncan/AP
Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Mel Tucker watches his unit at practice at the team's football training camp Thursday, July 24, 2008, in Berea, Ohio.

Despite Dantonio's success, the Spartans were inconsistent over his last four seasons, going just 27-24 while struggling on offense. The program is also still dealing with the fallout from a department-wide sexual assault scandal.

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