MSU football coach Mel Tucker pictured Tuesday, March 14, 2023, during the first day of spring practice at the indoor football facilty in East Lansing.

Mel Tucker’s appeal denied, Michigan State closes investigation

Former Michigan State head football coach Mel Tucker had his appeal denied Thursday in the university’s sexual harassment investigation into his actions toward an activist and rape survivor.

Michigan State hired an outside attorney, Courtney Bullard, to hear Tucker’s challenge that the school’s resolution officer and an outside investigator exhibited bias against him in the process.

Bullard upheld the resolution officer’s decision, leading the university to consider the matter closed.

“Based on the facts outlined in the record, the (Resolution Officer) had a reasonable basis for each of the challenged findings,” Bullard wrote. “The RO’s Decision is upheld. This decision is final.”

Bullard denied Tucker’s assertion that there was no evidence of unwanted sexual contact with his accuser, Brenda Tracy.

Tucker was fired in September amid an investigation into sexual harassment allegations involving Tracy, a sexual assault awareness speaker.

While Field Level Media’s policy is not to name alleged victims of sexual harassment or assault, Tracy agreed to be identified last year when she provided documentation in an interview with USA Today.

The final verdict from the initial report said: “In sum, considering all available evidence, the Resolution Officer finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that Respondent subjected Claimant to unwelcome conduct based on sex when he FaceTime video called Claimant without a shirt on; when he attempted to meet up with Claimant alone following the Spring Game; and when he non-consensually masturbated and used graphic, sexual language on a phone call with Claimant.”

Tucker appealed Michigan State’s ruling in October that he violated the university’s sexual misconduct policy, claiming not only a bias against him but also that new evidence would show he was being falsely accused.

Tucker provided texts and an affidavit from the cousin of Tracy’s late friend and booking assistant, claiming they would show Tracy was plotting to get money out of the accusation. But Bullard wrote that not only was the information submitted two weeks after Tucker’s hearing, it would not have affected the final decision.

“It’s been a 13 month long nightmare, but the MSU RVSM process is finally over,” Tracy wrote Thursday on X, formerly Twitter. “Tucker was found responsible for sexual harassment & exploitation and today his appeal was denied. Thank you to those who believed me and supported me through this. I appreciate you.”

Michigan State fired Tucker for cause, costing him about $80 million remaining on a 10-year contract he was given in November 2021.

Tucker had a 20-14 record as Michigan State coach. He was Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2021 when the Spartans went 11-2.

–Field Level Media

Oregon State quarterback Aidan Chiles (3) warms up before the spring showcase at Reser Stadium, Saturday, April 22, 2023, in Corvallis, Ore.

Oregon State Spring Game224

Oregon State QB Aidan Chiles follows coach to Michigan State

Oregon State quarterback Aidan Chiles announced Thursday he is following his former coach to Michigan State.

Chiles played in five games for the Beavers as a freshman in 2023, completing 24 of 35 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.

Chiles entered the transfer portal on Dec. 4 and announced his commitment to the Spartans on social media.

He will be reunited in East Lansing with head coach Jonathan Smith, who was hired by Michigan State last month after six seasons at Oregon State.

Chiles has three seasons of eligibility remaining. The Downey, Calif., native was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2023, ranked as the No. 7 QB prospect in the nation by 247Sports.

–Field Level Media

Michigan State's Noah Kim heads to the sideline after throwing a touchdown against Richmond during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.

Michigan State QB Noah Kim lands at Coastal Carolina

Fourth-year Michigan State quarterback Noah Kim landed at Coastal Carolina via the transfer portal.

Kim, a junior, was one of three Spartans’ scholarship quarterbacks to enter the portal. He has two years of eligibility remaining after starting five games in 2023 prior to being injured.

Kim confirmed the move in a short video of himself wearing a No. 1 Chanticleers’ jersey.

Coastal Carolina was in need of a replacement for starter Grayson McCall, who entered the transfer portal at the end of the season. McCall put up huge numbers for the Chanticleers, including 10,005 passing yards, 88 touchdowns and 14 interceptions along with 18 career rushing touchdowns.

Kim was ranked the No. 2 quarterback in Virginia after posting a 41-2 record in high school. He didn’t play his first two seasons in East Lansing before seeing limited time in four games in 2022 as a redshirt sophomore.

He won the 2023 preseason quarterback competition out of fall camp but was benched in October in favor of Katin Houser, who also transferred at the end of the season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Oregon State Beavers head coach Jonathan Smith looks up at the video board during the second half against the Washington Huskies at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State dismisses staff, hires Jonathan Smith as head coach

Michigan State dismissed its football coaching staff on Saturday and quickly moved to hire Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith to rebuild the program.

Athletic director Alan Haller made the changes a day after the Spartans ended their regular season with a 42-0 loss to No. 11 Penn State to finish 4-8 (2-7 Big Ten).

No contract terms were announced, and Smith’s hiring requires approval of the Michigan State board of trustees. The school said in a news release that Smith would be introduced on campus next week.

“Today is an exciting day for Michigan State,” Haller said. “… Jonathan has a proven track record of success, building the Oregon State program from the ground up by implementing a plan resulting in sustained historic success for the Beavers. He’s been a part of championship staffs, coached in the College Football playoff, and understands what’s required to be successful at the highest level, learning from some of the game’s most successful coaches.”

The Spartans started 2-0 on the season before then-coach Mel Tucker was suspended, and eventually fired on Sept. 27, amid an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.

Michigan State was 2-8 under interim coach Harlon Barnett, who was let go. The Free Press in Detroit reported the school also won’t bring back offensive coordinator Jay Johnson and defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton, special teams coordinator Ross Els, wide receivers coach Courtney Hawkins, tight ends coach Ted Gilmore, offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic, running backs coach Effrem Reed, defensive line coach Diron Reynolds, cornerbacks coach Jim Salgado and defensive analyst TJ Hollowell.

Barnett and Hawkins played at Michigan State.

Smith, 44, played quarterback at Oregon State from 1998-2001 but leaves his alma mater amid sweeping changes to the Pac-12. After this academic year, 10 of the 12 teams in the conference will be heading to other leagues, leaving holdovers Oregon State and Washington State with uncertain futures.

The Beavers, ranked No. 15, lost their regular-season finale 31-7 on Friday night to No. 6 Oregon. The Beavers finished the season 8-4 (5-4 Pac-12), pushing Smith’s record there to 34-35 in six seasons. In the past three seasons, the Beavers are 25-13.

“This year, Oregon State has controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, ranking among the nation’s leaders in both rushing offense and rushing defense. He’s shown not only the ability to recruit talented student-athletes who fit his system, but also to develop and maximize players once they’re in the program,” Haller said.

Smith previously worked as an assistant coach at Washington (2014-17), Boise State (2012-13), Montana (2010-11) and Idaho (2004-09).

The Spartans had one winning season in Tucker’s three full campaigns in East Lansing, going 11-2 (7-2 Big Ten) in 2021.

–Field Level Media

Penn State head football coach James Franklin looks around before walking off the field following a 24-15 loss to Michigan at Beaver Stadium Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in State College, Pa.

Drew Allar, No. 11 Penn State crush Michigan State

Drew Allar went 17-of-26 passing for 292 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 11 Penn State to a 42-0 win over Michigan State in a Big Ten East contest played at Ford Field in Detroit.

Kaytron Allen rushed for 137 yards on 15 carries and Nicholas Singleton piled up 118 yards on 18 carries for Penn State (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten).

Michigan State ended its season at 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the conference.

The Nittany Lions dominated throughout, collecting 23 first downs to five for Michigan State, outgaining the Spartans, 586-68, and possessing the football for more than 36 minutes.

Penn State’s defense collected seven sacks.

Penn State scored on the first possession of the game, going 43 yards in 10 plays and taking a 3-0 lead on a 49-yard field goal by Alex Felkins.

With 12:11 to go in the second quarter, Felkins drilled a 30-yard field goal to give Penn State a 6-0 lead.

The Nittany Lions scored the first touchdown of the game with 4:51 left in the second quarter, going up 13-0 on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Allar to Allen to finish off a 10-play, 64-yard drive.

Penn State then took a 21-0 lead with 10:13 left in the third quarter on an 8-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Beau Primula to Tyler Warren and a subsequent 2-point pass from Allar to KeAndre Lambert-Smith.

The Nittany Lions went up 28-0 with 4:13 remaining in the third on a 2-yard touchdown run by Pribula.

The score was set up by a 60-yard pass from Allar to Omari Evans down to the Michigan State 2-yard line.

With 12:29 remaining in the game, Allar hit Theo Johnson for a 21-yard touchdown pass that gave Penn State a 35-0 lead.

Singleton scored on a 14-yard touchdown run with 7:58 left to make it 42-0 Nittany Lions.

–Field Level Media

Penn State quarterback Drew Allar keeps the ball on the ground during an NCAA football game against Rutgers Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in State College, Pa. The Nittany Lions won, 27-6.

No. 11 Penn State expects QB Drew Allar to play vs. Michigan State

Whichever team prevails between No. 11 Penn State and Michigan State on Friday night might be possessing the Land Grant Trophy for a while.

The winner of the game each year claims the trophy, but with four new teams coming to the Big Ten from the Pac-12 next year, Penn State and Michigan State won’t be playing each other every year anymore and won’t play in 2024.

That should add intrigue to the Big Ten East finale for both teams when the Nittany Lions and Spartans meet at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday.

Both teams prevailed last Saturday, with Penn State (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) earning a 27-6 win over Rutgers, while Michigan State (4-7, 2-6) posted a 24-21 victory at Indiana.

Despite the win, Penn State had to finish the game without starting quarterback Drew Allar, who suffered an undisclosed injury in the third quarter and didn’t return.

Backup Beau Primula filled in from there.

On Monday, Penn State head coach James Franklin said he expects Allar to play and expects both quarterbacks to have roles.

But if Allar can’t play, Franklin doesn’t have an issue putting his faith in Primula.

“I think Beau will be ready to go,” Franklin said. “He did a great job. He competed and didn’t flinch. The staff didn’t flinch and the players didn’t flinch. He went in and made plays like we expected him to make.”

The biggest mismatch will likely be Penn State’s defense against Michigan State’s offense, given Penn State is ranked second in the Big Ten in scoring defense, while Michigan State is 11th in scoring offense.

“They play really good defense,” Michigan State head coach Harlon Barnett said. “They’ve got good players. They play hard and they understand the scheme. They’ll come after you a bit. We know what to expect from these guys, we’ve just got to go out and execute our plan.”

One potential issue for Penn State could be Michigan State senior tight end Maliq Carr, who had a career game against Indiana when he caught seven passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s a challenge there and a problem there,” Franklin said of Carr.

For Michigan State, it will be the last game of a trying season that likely won’t end in a bowl game for the second straight year, unless the Spartans can upset Penn State and not enough 6-6 teams qualify for postseason play.

The Spartans have had to deal with the firing of head coach Mel Tucker during the season over sexual assault allegations along with close losses to Iowa and Rutgers.

The game site also caused some controversy among the Michigan State fan base because it took away a home game from campus in a move directed by the conference and TV executives.

Barnett hopes it can still be somewhat of a home atmosphere in Detroit.

“They didn’t ask for this adversity that came upon them this season,” Barnett said of his players. “I would love for Spartan Nation to come out and show love for our guys. Show love for them and respect for them for what they’ve done this season. They’ve never given up. They’ve always kept fighting.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Katin Houser (12) drops back to throw during the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl chances slim, Michigan State, Indiana spar for Spittoon

The Old Brass Spittoon might be the only thing Michigan State and Indiana are playing for when they meet Saturday in Bloomington, Ind.

Both teams enter the game with 3-7 records overall and 1-6 marks in the Big Ten East, and bowl eligibility is all but gone for each squad.

There is only hope of a 5-7 finish, which could potentially be enough for a Power 5 team to be chosen for a bowl game. But that’s a reality only if there aren’t enough 6-6 or better teams qualified for the bowl season.

Given all that, the big prize will be the Spittoon, a trophy the Spartans and Hoosiers play for annually in a tradition that began in 1950.

Each team enters eyeing a rebound after losing last week.

Michigan State was routed 38-3 at Ohio State.

The Spartans collected just 182 yards of total offense. Michigan State quarterback Katin Houser completed 12 of 24 passes for just 92 yards.

The Spartans have lost two of the past three meetings with the Hoosiers and hope to reclaim the Spittoon after losing at home last year in double overtime. Michigan State leads the all-time series 50-17-2.

“You have to finish,” Michigan State interim coach Harlon Barnett said of his team’s mindset. “Once you start something, you have to finish. That’s where we are now. We need to finish, regardless of what has happened or what’s going to happen in the future. We can control what we can control, and that’s finish.”

Indiana enters Saturday’s game coming off a 48-45 overtime loss at Illinois. This will be the last home game of the season for the Hoosiers.

Indiana coach Tom Allen said playing two trophy games will help get his team’s attention with a bowl game likely out of reach.

“We definitely have a lot to play for, and we understand that it’s a testament to your character as a person, as a team, and as a program when you don’t allow the circumstances on the outside to dictate your focus, your effort, how you do things on a daily basis, and eventually how you perform on game day,” Allen said.

“Great opportunity in front of us, and we’re excited about it.”

–Field Level Media

Nov. 11, 2023; Columbus, Oh., USA; 
Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) dives into the endzone (32) while he is tackled by Michigan State Spartans defensive back Angelo Grose (15) to score a touchdown during the first half of Saturday's NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium.

No. 1 Ohio State grabs big lead, routs Michigan State

Marvin Harrison Jr. scored three touchdowns and Kyle McCord passed for 335 yards and three scores as top-ranked Ohio State routed Michigan State 38-3 in Columbus on Saturday.

Harrison rebounded from a subpar performance against Rutgers (four catches for 25 yards and TDs of 4 and 2 yards) to help the Buckeyes (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) to a 35-3 halftime lead.

He made seven catches for 149 yards and two TDs against the Spartans (3-7, 1-6 Big Ten) before being pulled after the first series of the third quarter. Harrison also opened the scoring with his first career rushing touchdown of 19 yards.

McCord was 24-of-31 passing. His yardage was a career best, surpassing the 320 against Maryland on Oct. 7, and he tied his best of three TDs, all in the first half. A favored target was Cade Stover, who tied a career high with seven catches for 79 yards and a TD. Stover sat the Rutgers game because of an injury.

Katin Houser was 12 of 24 for 92 yards for the Spartans, who have lost eight straight to the Buckeyes since their last win in 2015.

The Buckeyes scored on five of their six possessions in the first half. After Harrison’s running score, he had a 26-yard TD catch along the right sideline to make it 14-0 and followed with a 9-yard TD on a crossing route on the first play of the second quarter.

Michigan State’s Jonathan Kim made it 21-3 with a 53-yard field goal before TreVeyon Henderson rushed for a 9-yard score and Stover’s 18-yarder made it 35-3 with 15 seconds remaining in the half.

Henderson ran for 63 yards on 13 carries, all in the first half.

Harrison, who had a 57-yard catch in the third quarter, is the first Ohio State receiver to have two 1,000-yard seasons.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day motions from the sideline during the NCAA football game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium. Ohio State won 35-16.

Still No. 1, Ohio State shooting for fast start against Michigan State

While Ohio State finishes games strong, the No. 1 Buckeyes are still fighting to be better at the start when they host Michigan State on Saturday.

Ohio State remained atop the College Football Playoff rankings for the second straight week.

The Buckeyes (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) have scored 26 points (4.3 average per gane) in their past six first quarters, including being blanked twice while scoring just three touchdowns.

It hasn’t been costly — yet.

In their most recent game against Rutgers, they trailed at the half for the first time this season, 9-7, before winning 35-16.

“There were some good individual performances but you want to see overall just finishing more drives,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said of the slow first halves. “There are definitely signs that we’re moving in the right direction but it’s getting late in the season so our urgency is at an all-time high.”

Putting up points might matter when Ohio State sees the rejuvenated Spartans (3-6, 1-5 Big Ten), who ended a six-game losing streak with a 20-17 win over Wisconsin to give interim coach Harlon Barnett his first victory in six tries.

“Obviously we come in on a different note this week, as opposed to the previous multiple weeks, with a victory,” he said Monday. “It felt really good and winning does a lot. It heals a lot of the wounds and pain. The energy in the locker room was outstanding. Everybody was excited and happy and joyful. So, it was good to see those guys having fun for a change.

“I told them in (our) team meeting, we want to keep the positive energy going so that’s what we want, positive energy at all times.”

Ohio State has flipped the switch from being known for a dynamic offense that carried the defense. The Buckeyes took a 14-9 lead in the third quarter vs. Rutgers when Jordan Hancock returned an interception 93 yards. The defense had allowed 10.7 points per game, second in the NCAA to Michigan’s 6.7.

Ohio State’s national title aspirations could depend on the health of running back TreVeyon Henderson. He returned from missing three games due to injury to rush for 162 yards vs. Wisconsin on Oct. 28 and totaled 208 yards against Rutgers (22 rushes for 128 yards and a touchdown; five catches for 80 yards).

The Buckeyes have been banged up with cornerback Denzel Burke and safety Lathan Ransom missing the last game, linebacker Tommy Eichenberg and safety Josh Proctor getting injured during it.

Day on Tuesday said all but Ransom will definitely practice this week.

The Spartans have lost seven straight to the Buckeyes by a combined score of 282-74, which includes a 49-20 home loss last season. Their last win was in Columbus in 2015.

“They’re beatable guys just like anybody else so we’re going to go down there with the mindset to go attack them and get a win,” Barnett said. “That’s our mindset. It will never change.”

Day is unconcerned where the Buckeyes are ranked.

“So many guys on our team have been through all this before and they know it means absolutely nothing,” he said. “Their goal is to win the whole thing and to be the No. 1 team at the end of the year.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Daniel Jackson (9) scores a touchdown on a 22-yard pass reception against the Michigan State Spartans during the second quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Nubin, Minnesota run past Michigan State

Jordan Nubin rushed for 204 yards on 40 carries and two touchdowns, leading Minnesota to a 27-12 win over Michigan State in Minneapolis on Saturday.

Nubin, who had only six carries coming into the game, got the opportunity due to backfield injuries. Athan Kaliakmanis passed for 200 yards with one touchdown and one interception and Daniel Jackson caught seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown for Minnesota (5-3, 2-3 Big Ten).

Sam Leavitt had 73 passing yards and 52 rushing yards with a touchdown and interception in relief for Michigan State (2-6, 0-5), which has lost six straight. Starting quarterback Katin Houser was limited to 117 passing yards.

Michigan State forced a pair of turnovers in the first quarter and turned them into six points.

Jayden Mangham recovered a fumble during the Golden Gophers’ first possession. After the Spartans failed to pick up a first down, Jonathan Kim kicked a 38-yard field goal.

Jordan Hall sacked Kaliakmanis on the Gophers’ next possession and Avery Dunn recovered at Minnesota’s 33-yard line. Kim soon drilled a 42-yard field goal.

A 30-yard pass from Kaliakmanis to Brevyn Spann-Ford set up Dragan Kesich’s 25-yard field goal with 4:54 left in the half.

The Gophers drove 94 yards on their last possession of the half to take a 10-7 lead. Kaliakmanis’ 30-yard pass to Corey Crooms brought them into the red zone. They scored on Kaliakmanis’ 22-yard pass to Jackson over the middle.

Mangham’s interception deep in Michigan State territory during the third quarter prevented the Gophers from stretching their advantage.

Nubin rushed for 69 yards during a drive spanning the third and fourth quarters, including his 18-yard scoring run, to give Minnesota a 17-6 lead with 12 minutes to go.

Leavitt replaced Houser and gave the Spartans an immediate jolt. He passed or ran on all eight plays of a 75-yard drive, culminating in his 9-yard touchdown pass to Tyrell Henry. The two-point conversion pass attempt came up short.

However, Michigan State’s defense couldn’t stop Nubin. He scored from two yards out with 4:11 remaining to give the Gophers a 24-12 lead.

–Field Level Media