Eighteen hours of stress

A tough 18 hours

My Friday didn’t work out exactly as planned.

Due to snow in the Denver/Boulder metro area, I was only able to do one of the three interviews I had planned to do for the website. Still, I did get to watch the Buffs defeat the Cal Bears Thursday night, got to meet a friend for lunch in downtown Denver (thanks for picking up the check, Neil!), and a nice sit down dinner at Tony and Julie’s Friday night.

My wife and I got back to our hotel room around 10:30 Friday night … and I made the mistake of checking my email.

There it was … an article posted around 6:00 p.m., MT, by the Detroit Free Press: “Michigan State football coaching search: Luke Fickell, Mel Tucker set to interview“.

Michigan State plans to interview two candidates for its open head football coaching job this weekend, multiple sources with knowledge of the search told the Free Press on Friday night.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell, considered the front-runner, and Colorado coach Mel Tucker each will meet with MSU’s search committee as they look to replace Mark Dantonio, who retired suddenly Tuesday after 13 seasons.

What a gut punch.

Here I was, in Boulder – in February, no less – only to learn that while I was hanging out in Champions Center on Friday, a volcano was about to erupt.

Coach Tucker was leaving?

Reactions were swift … and often severe.

If you go back and read some of the comments under the “Colorado Daily” heading for the story, there is some hurt – as well as some outrage – that there was even a possibility of Coach Tucker interviewing with Michigan State. How could it be? We were all buying into the Tucker charisma and energy, and so were his players and recruits!

And now he was thinking of leaving … after only one year?

Some 18 hours after the story broke, Mel Tucker issued a tweet: While I am flattered to be considered for the HC job @MSU_football, I am committed to @CUBuffsFootball for #TheBuild of our program, its great athletes, coaches & supporters. #UnfinishedBusiness #GoBuffs

CU athletic director Rick George also issued a statement:

“Mel has turned heads here with the culture he’s quickly building and recruiting success he’s had, so it’s only natural that programs looking for a coach are going to be taking note. I know he’s committed to the Buffs all the way and we’re committed to supporting the vision he has for our program and winning championships. I’ve said plenty of times that we couldn’t be more excited that Mel is our head coach.”


Glad that’s over … but is it?

Some are still questioning what actually took place between Mel Tucker and Michigan State, if anything:

  • Did Mel Tucker (through his agent) express an interest in the job? Or did Michigan State reach out to Tucker? Or was this all just some speculation from unnamed sources in and around the Michigan State program?;
  • Did Tucker actually interview for the job? (Seems unlikely. Tucker was in southern California hitting up boosters this weekend, and even the Detroit Free Press article in question said, “Michigan State plans to interview two candidates”. If Michigan State was only “planning” on interviewing Mel Tucker as of Friday night, and by Saturday noon Coach Tucker had shut down the speculation, there was probably no interview); and
  • Coach Tucker and AD George would have known about the story shortly after it came out Friday night, yet the disclaimers didn’t come out until noon on Saturday … was there a reason for the delay, or was it just a matter of Coach Tucker and AD George just wanted to cross the “t’s” and dot the “i’s” before issuing a joint response?

Still, if you look at the link between Coach Tucker and Michigan State from 30,000 feet, it’s a move like that arguably made some sense for Coach Tucker:

  • Mel Tucker is from Cleveland – about three hours from East Lansing – and his parents still live in Cleveland;
  • Tucker played at Wisconsin. He then coached both at Michigan State and Ohio State … so he is certainly familiar with Big Ten country; and
  • There’s always the money.

How much money? Truckloads.

Many Buff fans won’t recognize the name Jeff Brohm.

If you are not familiar with the name, I’ll help – he’s the head coach of the Purdue Boilermakers.

Purdue is a fair-to-middling Big Ten school, which has been known to produce good-to-great NFL quarterbacks over the years (Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Jim Everett and Drew Brees among them), but not much else.

The relevance here is that Brohm made $5.3 million last year coaching the Boilermakers … a sum higher than what was paid to any head coach in the Pac-12 (or at least the ten schools who report salaries. Stanford and USC are private institutions, and are not required to release documentation on salaries).

Even if Clay Helton or David Shaw earn more than Brohm, the point is well taken … there’s a lot more money rolling into the coffers of the Big Ten (and SEC) schools than there is at the University of Colorado and its fellow Pac-12 schools.

Money which can be used to buy out other team’s coaches.

According to the Daily Camera … Last season, Tucker made $2.4 million in base and supplemental salary and is set to make $2.675 million this next season. Out-going Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio was paid about $4.4 million by Michigan State this past season.

In addition to a potentially higher salary, Michigan State could offer more financial resources. The Spartans had a football assistant coach salary pool of $4.9 million last season and, according to a USAToday database, MSU ranked 13th nationally in total athletic department revenue in 2017-18, at $145.64 million.

CU had an assistant coach salary pool of $3.155 million last season. Its 2017-18 athletic department revenue ranked 45th nationally, at $89.58 million.

That’s a pretty significant discrepancy in funding … and it’s only going to get worse.

The Pac-12 is falling behind the SEC and Big Ten in revenue by eight digits – over $10 million – per year, per school. Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News estimated that the gap could be $100 million over a five year period.

That’s not $100 million more that the Big Ten and the SEC will be making in excess of what the Pac-12 will be making.

That’s $100 million more each school in the Big Ten and the SEC will make more than each school in the Pac-12 will take in.

Think a place like Michigan State could use an extra $100 million to lure away a promising coach at the University of Colorado?

You betcha’.

Colorado may have dodged a bullet with the Mel Tucker-to-Michigan State story, which apparently only amounted to 18 hours of stress for its fans.

But it’s more likely than not to be a story which will rear its ugly head again next off-season.

38 Replies to “Eighteen Hours of Stress”

  1. As it turns out, CU is in a much better position today as a result of Coach Tucker’s choice/decision. Coach Dorrell lives in the community. He wants to be at CU for the long term and build something special. When comparing the charismatic Coach Tucker’s two coaching seasons with steady Coach Dorrell’s SIX coaching seasons, Coach Tucker has yet to experience a winning record, and Coach Dorrell has yet to experience a losing season. It looks like CU came out ahead – WAY ahead!!

  2. Shocked? No. Disappointed? Absolutely! Tee Shirts soon to be available “What the F&%# Tuck”. I would say bring back Leavitt, at least we now is a known scoundrel but a good coach. I need to start drinking again.

  3. Since I’m a troll now, I will continue. Rick George this is 100% on you. Should have heeded the advice given by some of your alumni (pre-emptive action last Saturday). I was right, so it boggles my mind how this happened…it wasn’t rocket science and all of us older folks had seen this play out many, many times before.

  4. Your sure called that one, Stewart – MSU doubled down and we’re short a head coach, again.
    Gut punch. Maybe I’ll think more clearly after I can catch my breath and wipe away the tears.

  5. Well it looks like they came back and bought him. Okay double by salary, double my assist coaches salary and I will see you tomorrow.

    With all that being said……………

    It appears to me the curse of “62-36” applies to both the Kornholers and the Mighty Buffs.

    It is true that………………….. Buff fans cannot have nice things.

    Note: On to the next coach

    “NEVER GIVE IN……………………SHOULDER TO SHOULDER……………..Okay fine


  6. Larry Scott, the new webster’s dictionary definition of complete loser. He is screwing the Pac-12 with his incompetance. $20M less per year is an abomintaion. Idiots like our president DeSteafano are major part of the problem

  7. It appears not a lot of the folks that were around for Slick Rick…his sudden departure left a huge emotional void…that CU at the time an auto Top 20 program w/legit chance at National Championships, left for UW…who at the time outside, of WA, didn’t appear to be the dominating Athletic Dept. it does today.
    We vowed, never again…would we put ourselves in that position. Fast forward to today, and there are those (including Wilner) that thinks this is a good thing. We’ve been down this road, and it ain’t pretty either.

    1. And regardless, still struggling w/the ‘positive’ spin logic. So as soon as we have any onfield success next year and HC’s get on the hot seat, the rumors are going to start flying. Mel has a big ‘come get me’ sign on him. How does this not impact the recruiting moving forward??? Everyone is OK with him leaving….so why does anyone want to send their kid here? Please help me understand.

    2. I have now heard from two well respected journalist that Mich. St. was in Boulder to meet with Mel Tucker last Friday. I have supported this program through thick and thin for 45 years. I am upset that this coach who just got his first head coaching job here 13 months ago, has made him self available to an interview already. If I didn’t think he was a good coach I would still be upset. It looks like he will be a very fine coach but is ready to bail at anytime. This program needs stability after the last 2 decades of turmoil. We are not snowflake fans we are just tired of having to be the after thought of college football. But who could blame him for looking for an out when his first home game was a sea of red. What a loyal bunch of season ticket holders we have.

      1. So what’s yur point? If you were in a position to be interviewed by a competitor that you knew would want you and pay you more money, would you refuse the meeting? I doubt it. Happened to me several times and I took each interview. Stayed with the company I was with both times.

        Sheesh get a grip.


  8. Was watching Washington vs Washington State hoops when someone got close enough to the announcers microphones to yell “Fire Larry Scott. It’s all his fault!” I guess he’s not popular anywhere in the Pac-12 geographic area.

  9. Not surprised, nor worried about the MSU interest. A friend once said, “if no one else wanted him, I wouldn’t want him either”.

    CU has a lot more going for it than just money.

  10. Initially shocking, but logically unlikely. MSU has been on a downward trajectory. Possibly facing fallout from recent alleged criminal behavior by players Dantonio took a chance on recruiting. Dantonio’s abrupt “retirement”…maybe he saw some writing on the wall. CU on upward trajectory, with better overall probability of success soon. If Mel manages to bring Buffs back to national prominence, his value will likely double, if not triple. Bottom line…let’s face it, with all the things Buff fans love about Mel Tucker, the fact remains nothing has yet been proven on the field. After all, a 5-7 is nothing to write home about. Thrilled he’s staying, make no mistake…and relieved, believe they’ll get it done. Me thinks it was the logical choice, a no brainer in the long run…I hope!

  11. We’d better get used to this if (when) MT becomes even moré successful at CU. At this stage of the game the only real thing keeping MT at CU is gratitude to RG for having offered him his first HC position and maybe the challenge to finish what he started. He knows if (when) he succeeds he will still get the money. Lets enjoy him while we have him but coaching at CU is surely not his dream for the rest of his life.

  12. Fire Larry Scott! He has put the PAC 12 in this disadvantaged revenue position. We all know the litany of his malfeasance and arrogance so no need to belabor the point. Regarding the story itself, I find it disappointing that a news story is taken as fact based on anonymous sources and little else. Buffzone and Brian Howell just took the Detroit Free Press story at face value. Did they even try to contact Tucker or George? And the people who immediately jumped on the outrage and condemn bandwagon may want to look in the mirror. Just because it is on the internet doesn’t make it true. Doesn’t make it false either. Take a minute to analyze the situation yourself and consider the sources and context of the report.

    I do agree with Stuart that if Mel strings together a couple winning seasons, he will be a hot commodity and Rick will have to pay the going rate, or at least close enough, to keep Mel in the fold. The issue of conference revenue disparity will always be the shadow hanging over the conference, and thus the Buffs (unless there’s a Phil Knight-type lurking out there who loves the Buffs).

  13. Hi Stuart..maybe the Pac12 is not the best conference for our Buffs. Would it make sense for us to consider a move back to the Big 12 or is that even possible? IMO it would be awesome to have the blackskirts and us back in the Big 12.

  14. What a dismal subject.
    What a dismal set of posts by “SnowFlake Buff Fans”

    Shocking how the Buff Fan reacted. The weakened soul of a human being pounded down for a decade plus with promises of the same year after year that build him up then crash him down. Shocking how the life of a Buff fan hinges on every real or perceived reality and is always at a moments notice ready to spiral down the rat hole. Fast and Hard. It is expected. Even if it isn’t true………The mind is a terrible thing………………….Help is available. The hate, and it was hate, that poured from the whining Buff herd was sad yet amusing. (Some say the Media is just a form of mind control……………in all areas of life……………Hmmm Ol Coger what? )

    Sheesh you buy in after 12 months of watching the man work and put your trust in him (so you say) and a reporter from Detroit writes a story from anonymous sources (CNN/MSN) and you jump all over him. Fake news for Fake fans.

    If yur this deep in, and you can’t ride the wave…………….perhaps the deep end is not for you.

    The eternal Buff fan experience.
    “Why do you build me up (build me up) Buttercup, baby
    Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around”

    Hey it’s Sunday Morning……………..Praise the Lord and put away the shrooms, it’s gonna be okay

    Sko Buffs

    Note: Nah no more questions and answers. Those questioning just want to jump down the rat hole again. Gotta know Gotta know……………..My existence depends on it…………..Bite Off

    Note 2: The misery wagon is full when it comes to Buff Fans. hahaha you ol snowflakes

  15. Tuck (AND HIS AGENT) knew the moment he was mentioned in any article connecting him to MSU…that was back earlier in the week, now that I’ve done internet searching. It just didn’t hit Buffs nation full in the face until Friday, when it leaked he was actually interviewing.
    Again, the proper way to have handled this was the Pitt coach. Tuck had DAYS to do what Narduzzi did.

  16. Exactly Stuart…nothing has changed. You hit it all on the head. This was brokered by a 3rd party, it was going down this weekend. Someone messed up, not realizing the firestorm mentioning Tuck would cause (why would they, it’s lowly CU we’re talking about right?)
    Then everything you point out in the timeline is correct. On the flip side you had what the Pitt coach did to squash these rumors before they even started.
    Nothing has changed IMO, unfortunately IN TUCK I NO LONGER TRUST and I would still like us to go explore one of the two alumns we have sitting out there. Again, this is a situation that has never? presented itself in all of CU FB history…(2) guys who on the outside look very well prepared to guide our programs long term, if that’s what they wish to do. Thought we were done with type of nonsense and PERSON w/slick Rick. IN TUCK I NO LONGER TRUST…and no way every recruit stays on now…who could blame them?

    1. Some recruits mom disagree with your ramble rant feel sorry for yourself wanna try the Cu alum coaches fiasco again. Sheesh Eire

      We saw first hand what it’s like in Boulder with Coach Tucker…..The culture, THE FAMILY, strength/conditioning,support staff and SUPPORT of the COMMUNITY. When you have all those things and more……It becomes appealing to externals as well! #SKOBUFFS

      Wife to Sean/Arizona WBB Alum-Mom to #49 DE/OLB Arizona Wildcats and #?DE/OLB Colorado Buffs-#Wildcatmom #Buffmom #pac12mom #BEARDOWN #SCOBUFFS #backthePAC

      Go Burrs Ya

      1. Don’t discount all our alums b/c one of them was clueless. VJ never would have got a shot to run the Donkeys if he didn’t at least have a clue.

  17. Well said Stuart. The failure of the PAC 12 networks to produce revenue means Mel will eventually interview/leave and CU has no means to prevent this from happening. How many times will Mel pass on a $10 million salary increase? Another example of the financial disparity: the Rutgers assistant coach budget is $7.7 million, CU is at $3.1 million.

  18. Think Michigan state can cover up a demented md under the shroud of the school for nearly 20yrs?

    It is a crazy world.

    But Mel was never bolting to MSU.

    Will he bolt eventually? Probably. And hopefully he will have improved CU football during his tenure.

    Go Buffs

    1. Damn, what a fool I was. I gave the man a little more credit than he deserved, I guess. Yeah, I understand it’s a business decision. I understand he got generational money and a much better pool to hire and retain assistants. At a program that will pretty much do anything to remain relevant in football and athletics in general (here’s lookin’ at you, Nasser).

      I’m also a guy who’s a bit more balanced between work/money/life, I guess. And hoped Mel may be too. Boulder’s one of the nicest spots on the planet, warts and all. And a few mill is a pretty good livin’ every year, so why live in a a place that isn’t quite that?

      Anyway. I hope the irony isn’t lost on anyone who badmouthed McIntyre, Embree, Hawkins, Gary, or even friggin’ Rick for their time and efforts at CU.

      I can thank Mel for the class he and his staff helped to bring in (players make plays, players win games) and hope to hell that whoever the next guy is can get more out of them than another 5-7 season (or worse).

      If he raids the staff at CU? Wow. That’ll take him down another peg.

      Go Buffs

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