Michigan State Football: Comparing Mel Tucker’s first season to coaching greats

Mel Tucker, Michigan State football coach (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Mel Tucker, Michigan State football coach (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Since the 5-7 record has been brought up quite a bit, we’ll take a look at how Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker’s first year compares to others.

We hear it constantly: “Mel Tucker’s career record is only 5-7.”

We get it, it’s not impressive. It’s not great, it’s not terrible, it’s just slightly below average. Missing that .500 mark in year one as a Power Five head coach isn’t ideal, but it’s also not entirely out of the ordinary.

That’s right, Michigan State’s newest head coach actually went par for the course in terms of brand new Power Five head coaches in 2019 with Colorado and that’s not to mention he has years upon years of experience as a college coordinator at some national powers as well as in the NFL as an assistant.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this list of year one records from current coaching greats.

Shocked to see names like Nick Saban, James Franklin, Jim Harbaugh, Dabo Swinney, Ed Orgeron and Les Miles fail to win seven games in year one? Even more shocking is the fact that Mark Dantonio had the best record in his first year at a Power Five program (Michigan State) than all of those guys.

So for anyone knocking Tucker’s record at Colorado and using it as a reason for why he won’t succeed in East Lansing, just present them that list of coaches.

Further proof for Michigan State football fans’ use

As if those names weren’t enough to prove a point, let’s look at some other top-tier college football coaches and how they fared in year one in the Power Five.

  • Gary Patterson: 6-6 (when TCU joined the Big 12)
  • Dan Mullen: 5-7
  • Tom Herman: 7-6
  • Mack Brown: 1-10
  • Pete Carroll: 6-6
  • PJ Fleck: 5-7
  • Pat Fitzgerald: 4-8
  • Matt Rhule: 1-11
  • Matt Campbell: 3-9
  • Chris Petersen: 8-6
  • Mike Leach: 7-6
  • Jeremy Pruitt: 5-7
  • Mark Stoops: 2-10
  • Lane Kiffin: 7-6

The moral of the story is simple: Tucker’s 5-7 record doesn’t matter. He took over a program without his players and after it finished bowl-less the year before and still led them to five wins. Many predicted Colorado would finish at the bottom of the Pac-12 and that wasn’t the case.

Just because a coach struggles in year one at a Power Five doesn’t make them a bad coach, it makes them just like any other coach in his first year.

3 massive benefits from Josh Langford return. dark. Next