Mel Tucker deserves blame for Michigan State football's transfer portal woes

Mel Tucker looks on during a Michigan State game against Central Michigan on Sept. 1, 2023.
Mel Tucker looks on during a Michigan State game against Central Michigan on Sept. 1, 2023. / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Mel Tucker news this past season shocked the entire college football world. It was front and center in the sports industry and a staple among conversations for many weeks. But then the drama became old news and now what he did to the program hardly ever gets brought up.

But the lasting impact Tucker had on the Michigan State football program is still being felt today.

Mel Tucker deserves a lot of blame for MSU’s offseason

Michigan State is in the midst of one of its toughest offseasons. And there are many reasons why this offseason has been so difficult for MSU. But one reason that hasn’t come up is the culture, or lack thereof, that Tucker created while he was head coach at Michigan State.

Tucker created a culture that cared more about Twitter and Instagram likes than actual on field success. This was seen with Tucker being front and center any chance he got when a camera came out instead of letting his players or recruits have their moment.

I never got the impression that the team was solely focused on putting their head down and working hard no matter what was being said about them. Should the players be held accountable for that? Absolutely. But it all begins with the coaching staff, and the culture that lacked accountability and hard work all begins with Tucker.

Tucker also prioritized recruits that apparently cared more about themselves than the team. This doesn’t apply to all his recruits, but there are many examples. None greater than Jaden Mangham who is in the transfer portal and reportedly visiting Michigan. Not only is he visiting MSU’s biggest rival, but he and his family went online today talking bad about the fans and former players who took issue to that.

Finally you have the incident itself that rocked the Michigan State football program midseason. Any program would take a massive step back in some capacity after what Tucker did, and that is being felt in a big way today with countless players leaving the program.

Jonathan Smith now has a huge task in front of him to make up for what Tucker did. But I think we need to make it abundantly clear that what is happening in the portal isn’t Smith’s fault. If this exodus from the program is still happening in a few years, then Smith deserves blame. But most of the offseason woes this year fall on Tucker and the nonexistent culture he created during his time at Michigan State.