Michigan State Football: Jim Harbaugh can take lesson from Mel Tucker

Michigan State's head coach Mel Tucker communicates with players during the first quarter in the game against Michigan on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.211030 Msu Michigan 079a
Michigan State's head coach Mel Tucker communicates with players during the first quarter in the game against Michigan on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.211030 Msu Michigan 079a /

If you’re like me, you are probably sick and tired of hearing about officiating being used as an excuse for Michigan’s loss to Michigan State football now (*checks notes*) nine days ago.

It has been nine whole days since the Spartans beat the Wolverines after a 16-point comeback in the second half and some Michigan fans are still talking about some questionable 50/50 calls that didn’t go their way.

But that’s not entirely on a fanbase.

No, that blame absolutely has to fall on a head coach for continuing to acknowledge that he believed the refs were wrong and upholding the narrative that Michigan got the short end of the stick in East Lansing. Jim Harbaugh has not let it go. Like most coaches do after games, they send some plays in for “clarity” following games to get some feedback from the conference’s officials.

While this doesn’t change the outcome, it helps the coach understand the rules better and how to handle certain situations when they arise in games.

Harbaugh, however, has stuck to the mindset that “mistakes were made” and that the “film doesn’t lie” almost two weeks after the fact.

His mindset is something that’s trickled down to the fanbase and has led to social media murmurings of “this game was stolen” and “Michigan should have won if not for the refs.” This is something that could have been avoided if Harbaugh had said something like “we didn’t do what we needed to in order to win” instead of saying the refs were wrong.

A few things Jim could have focused on instead of officiating:

  • Playing JJ McCarthy in a critical spot after he fumbled the drive before.
  • Blowing a 16-point lead in the final 20 minutes.
  • Allowing five touchdowns to Kenneth Walker III.
  • Settling for field goals instead of touchdowns in the red zone.
  • Throwing to the end zone on third-and-short.

You know, what good coaches usually talk about when games are won and lost fairly.

And after talking to the media on Monday, both Harbaugh and Mel Tucker came away with differing mindsets which led to mixed reviews by the media.

Harbaugh can learn from Mel Tucker

Tucker just gave Jim a masterclass on how to act after a loss when he felt like some calls didn’t go his way. He didn’t say anything about the officiating mistakes when questioned, he said that he submitted some plays “for clarity” to the Big Ten like they always do, but he doesn’t like to dwell on bad calls because that’s not Michigan State’s culture.

This quote is exactly why Michigan State fans love Tucker. He said the exact opposite of Harbaugh in his presser when asked about bad calls.

Harbaugh went on to say that the Big Ten made mistakes and he agreed that the film doesn’t lie. Tucker said that he doesn’t like to talk about bad calls because it makes the program soft and gives everyone an out. He basically just said MSU isn’t built on excuses.

While this wasn’t a direct shot at Harbaugh, it may as well have been.

Tucker has heard all week long about the “missed calls” or “bad calls” that Harbaugh had been complaining about and you know darn well he was sick of it. And he’s right. Complaining about officiating for weeks when that wasn’t the reason you lost comes off as weak and soft and it’s hard to argue that when it’s a common theme with a certain program.

Harbaugh has to be better when it comes to taking accountability because saying that “mistakes were made” in officiating and “film doesn’t lie” is ironic considering he’s to blame for mistakes being made coaching-wise and film not lying about his team breaking down in the second half.

It’s time Harbaugh takes a lesson from Tucker because the second-year head coach handled this situation better than the seventh-year head coach.

There’s a reason Tucker is 2-0 against Harbaugh and it’s not because of officiating.

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