After watching the national title game between Ohio State and Alabama, Michigan State football fans are wondering, “When, if ever, could that be us?”
Any normal Michigan State fan watched the national title game between Alabama and Ohio State on Monday night and wondered, “When can we get back to the big stage?”
It’s normal to think about your own team when watching others succeed, especially if your team has made it to the biggest stage in recent years but has fallen on hard times. Michigan State fans feel just that after making the College Football Playoff during the 2015 season, then going 3-9 in 2016, bouncing back for 10 wins in 2017 and then going 14-12 in 2018 and 2019 before Mark Dantonio’s sudden retirement.
Fans got a taste of that mountaintop (the playoff) and then immediately suffered through a dark period with three of the next four years resulting in mediocre football.
Now that Mel Tucker is in town, the recruiting seems as if it’s going to experience an uptick and he already has two ranked victories under his belt (at Michigan, vs. Northwestern). Sure, the Spartans went just 2-5, but the team admittedly wasn’t that deep and they had just lost a ton of leadership from the previous year in guys like Joe Bachie, Brian Lewerke, David Dowell, Raequan Williams, Kenny Willekes, Mike Panasiuk and Darrell Stewart, among others.
Mix that with implementing a new system on both sides of the ball with a completely new coaching staff, and a 2-5 season with a couple of ranked wins in a year in which Tucker didn’t really get a chance to know his team in the offseason with no spring or fall ball is not too shabby.
So how far is he from getting Michigan State into Big Ten contention and potentially in playoff position?
It’s hard to say based off one season, but if Tucker can go 7-5 or even 6-6 in year two, that’ll show that there’s progress being made. If he can follow that up with 8-9 wins in 2022, I could see the Spartans truly contending in 2023 or 2024 with his guys in place.
If Tucker is as good of a recruiter as people claim, he should be getting top 25 classes regularly and if you swap out that talent for what’s currently in place, Michigan State will have a preseason ranked team heading into 2022 and/or 2023.
Then it’s up from there.
There is young talent on the team right now with guys like Jordon Simmons, Ricky White, Payton Thorne, Tre Mosley, Chase Kline, Angelo Grose and Michael Fletcher who could all be juniors and seniors by the time Michigan State is in ranked territory again. Plus, the Spartans have some quality incoming transfers for the 2021 season who could expedite the turnaround.
So for those wondering when Michigan State could be a contender again, if all goes as planned and Tucker brings in consistent top 25-30 classes for the next few years, it wouldn’t be shocking to see this team make some noise by 2023 or 2024.