LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – On Tuesday afternoon ahead of what many are calling the most important election in U.S. history Michigan State’s football coach Mel Tucker opened his weekly Zoom press conference by encouraging people to vote. That is if they haven’t already.
“Before I start on football I’d like to say that obviously today is a special day in this country,” said Tucker. “No matter who you vote for I would encourage you to vote, if you haven’t already done so, and also pray that as Americans (post-election) we find a way to be less partisan and come together as a country.”
Of course the Spartans’ 27-24 win over Michigan on Saturday was a big one, and Tucker acknowledged how thankful he was for the support he’s received over the last few days from the fanbase, a.k.a Spartan Nation. There was a lot of buzz surrounding the Spartans on social media following their win and Tucker knows how impactful a win over the Wolverines is.
“I’m keenly aware of that,” said Tucker. “I’m proud Spartan Nation is pleased, and excited about our program, and about our win against the school down the road. Bringing the Paul Bunyan trophy back to East Lansing is a source of pride.”
Pride also brings out dignity, and it’s another thing Tucker has been preaching to his team, along with trusting the process, and playing fundamental football.
Over the last two years there has been a lot of taunting on social media from the team who ends up winning the annual rivalry, but you didn’t see much showboating from the Spartans this year, and here’s why.
“I’m not a believer in taunting,” said Tucker. “We tell our players, ‘Do not talk to the opponent’ you know? Your actions speak so loud that I can’t hear what you’re saying. There’s no need to talk to the opponent. There’s no need to taunt. That’s not how the game is meant to be played. That’s not how we are going to play football here.”
As important as Saturday’s win over Michigan was, Tucker also knows it’s time to look ahead to this weekend’s opponent, the Iowa Hawkeyes.
“We’re building on our process, our culture, and we must continue to play tough, hard-nosed football,” said Tucker. “We have to be physical versus Iowa.”
The Hawkeyes go into this weekend’s matchup against MSU 0-2, with losses to Purdue and Northwestern, but Tucker knows playing at Kinnick Stadium is no easy task.
“Kirk Ferentz is the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten,” said Tucker. “I’ve known Coach Ferentz for a very long time. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He is a great football coach and he has a great staff. Iowa is a very tough place to play. I don’t think we have any players on our roster who have played there, but I’ve been there, and several coaches on our staff have been there, and we know it’s a tough place to play whether they have fans or not.”
Tucker then went on to add this, “Our preparation has to be even a notch above of what we did last week.”
The Spartans will kickoff against the Hawkeyes at 12 p.m. on Saturday in Iowa City. The game will be televised on ESPN. It is MSU’s third straight noon game.