Michigan State coach Mel Tucker on the sidelines during Michigan's 29-7 win over Michigan State on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Ann Arbor.

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Michigan State condemns ‘assault’ on Michigan players

Michigan State officials said Sunday that players who confronted and threw punches at at least one Michigan player after their rivalry game on Saturday night will be held responsible and that the university will cooperate with any forthcoming investigations from police or the Big Ten.

Michigan defeated Michigan State 29-7, and after the game, video captured a group of Spartans players punching and kicking Wolverines defensive back Ja’Den McBurrows in the tunnel heading toward the locker room. Tempers had flared near the end of the game.

“As Spartans our program has a responsibility to uphold the highest level of sportsmanship,” Spartans coach Mel Tucker posted to Twitter Sunday morning. “While emotions were very high at the conclusion of our rivalry game at Michigan Stadium, there is no excuse for behavior that puts our team or our opponents at risk.

“In complete cooperation with law enforcement, the Big Ten Conference and MSU and UM leadership, we will evaluate the events in Ann Arbor and take swift and appropriate action.”

Michigan State president Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said such actions would not be tolerated.

“I’m extremely saddened by this incident and the unacceptable behavior depicted by members of our football program,” Stanley said in a statement released by the school. “On behalf of Michigan State University, my heartfelt apology to the University of Michigan and the student athletes who were injured.

“There is no provocation that could justify the behavior we are seeing on the videos. Rivalries can be intense but should never be violent.

“Coach Tucker will be holding the players involved responsible, and our football team and university will be cooperating with all related investigations by law enforcement and the Big Ten Conference.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was visibly shaken after the game and called the incident an assault on two players, though the second player was not identified. Harbaugh said one of the players could have sustained an injury to his nose.

“Just like anybody, you want to protect your players,” Harbaugh said. “Ten on one, whatever it was, it was just bad. It needs to be investigated and brought to a conclusion. Our athletic director will make sure that that takes place.”

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel shared Harbaugh’s dismay at the incident.

“What happened after the game is completely unacceptable. I’ve talked to the commissioner (Kevin Warren), he’s looking into it,” Manuel said. “The police are also looking into it, because they’ve seen the video and they’re addressing it. We will leave it in their hands, but this is not how we should interact after a game.

“This is not the way another team should grab a player and do what they did. It’s completely and utterly unacceptable. We will let the Big Ten and law enforcement handle it, but this is not what a rivalry should be about.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; A fans holds a sign for Tate Myre one of the Oxford High School shooting victims before the start of the NFL game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State honors shooting victim Tate Myre as honorary signee

Michigan State added Tate Myre, the high school football player killed in a school shooting last month, as an honorary member of its 2022 signing class on Wednesday.

Myre was one of four students who died as a result of the Nov. 28 mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan. A 15-year-old student has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and terrorism causing death.

“We are honored to recognize Tate Myre as the first Spartan Dawg of the 2022 class,” Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker said in a video posted to social media. “A Spartan Dawg is defined, not by the plays they make on the field, but by the character they exemplify, the leadership they bring to their team and their community, and for extraordinary individuals like Tate Myre, their heroism. Tate is, and always will be, a Spartan Dawg.”

Myre, who was a junior, aspired to play college football and had been invited to recruiting visits at Michigan State.

Witnesses said Myre was shot as he ran toward the shooter, and Tucker lauded him as a hero as well as an athlete.

“Tate Myre had an unmatched work ethic, athleticism and love for his teammates,” Tucker added. “He had a passion to one day play for Michigan State. This passion was paired with an unstoppable drive and follow through to get there. Tate’s consistency on and off the football field elevated everyone who knew him.”

The Michigan football team earlier honored Myre by wearing a patch with his No. 42 on their jerseys during the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 4.

–Field Level Media

Michigan State's head coach Mel Tucker calls out to players during the fourth quarter in the game against Maryland on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.

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Michigan State finalizes 10-year, $95M deal with Mel Tucker

A lopsided loss to a rival wasn’t enough to prevent Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker from landing a 10-year, $95 million contract extension.

The deal, which was reported by multiple media outlets last week, was confirmed by the school on Wednesday.

In the interim, the Spartans went to Ohio State and were demolished 56-7, dropping Michigan State’s record to 9-2 on the season. On the plus side, the Spartans did beat rival Michigan 37-33 earlier last month.

The extension puts Tucker under contract through Jan. 15, 2032.

Tucker tweeted after the school’s announcement, “Every day I wake up feeling humbled to be the Head Football Coach at Michigan State. It is my privilege to work alongside our student athletes, coaches and staff who embody our culture of hard work, discipline, and excellence — on and off the field. …

“(We are engaged in) a process to build a championship-winning program. A process that drives us to be better. A process that demands relentless soul and grit. And a process that requires support from Spartans across the globe.

“I am honored to be a part of the Spartan process today, and for years to come.”

University president Samuel L. Stanley Jr. wrote in a statement, “Mel Tucker has been an outstanding addition to our Spartan Athletic program. In less than two years, his leadership has already resulted in a program competing for top honors, and I’m impressed by his intensity and drive. Spartan fans around the country are enjoying the success of this year’s football program and we look forward to many more successful seasons, competing at the highest levels under Coach Tucker.”

Tucker, 49, is set to become the second-highest paid college football coach behind just Alabama’s Nick Saban, per the USA Today salary database.

After spending one season as the head coach at Colorado, producing a 5-7 record in 2019, Tucker came to Michigan State and led the Spartans to a 2-5 mark in 2020.

The 49-year-old Ohio native previously was an assistant coach for Miami (Ohio), LSU, Ohio State, Alabama and Georgia in the college ranks as well as the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears in the NFL.

–Field Level Media

Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker and players march towards Spartan Stadium before the Youngstown State game in East Lansing on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Michigan State won the game, 42-14.

Reports: Michigan St. to offer Mel Tucker $95M extension

Michigan State is preparing to offer Spartans head coach Mel Tucker a 10-year, $95 million extension that would make him the second-highest paid football coach in the nation, the Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday.

The “Inside the Locker Room” podcast also reported the impending deal Tuesday night, adding that MSU alums Mat Ishbia and Steve St. Andre are donating the private funding for the extension.

Tucker, 49, would be No. 2 nationally behind only Alabama’s Nick Saban, per the USA Today salary database. Tucker would pass Penn State James Franklin for tops in the Big Ten, per the database.

Further, only three NFL coaches (Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, Sean Payton) would be making more than Tucker once the deal is consummated. It would also make Tucker the highest paid Black coach in all of American sports, passing Stanford’s David Shaw. Mike Tomlin is the highest paid Black coach in the NFL at $8 million.

Tucker’s current salary of $5.632 million is fourth in the conference and 13th nationally, per USA Today.

Tucker is 11-6 as Spartans head coach in just shy of two full seasons. He went 5-7 in one year at Colorado before leaving for East Lansing.

The Spartans (9-1) are No. 7 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.

Taking the Spartans from afterthought to a Top 10 team this season made Tucker the odds-on favorite to become the new head coach at LSU, which is parting ways with Ed Orgeron at season’s end.

Tucker being linked to LSU was a catalyst for the new deal, per the Free Press report.

Ishbia is chairman, president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage The former Sparty basketball walk-on also donated $32 million in February toward a new football facility. St. Andre is the founder of marketing firm Shift Digital.

–Field Level Media