EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)— Big Ten football is back, and with it comes the start of the Mel Tucker era. He will make his debut as the Spartans’ 25th head coach on Saturday at 12 p.m. at Spartan Stadium when MSU hosts Rutgers.
“I can’t help but to smile because this is a dream come true for me to be able to represent this great university and our Spartan Nation as the head football coach,” said Tucker. “My demeanor on game day is very similar to what our players see every day. It’s important for me to be consistent.”
The last time Tucker stepped on to the field at Spartan Stadium, his role at MSU was much different. He was a graduate assistant under then head coach Nick Saban, and he took some time to reflect on those early years during a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday.
“Coaching in Spartan Stadium, it’s special,” said Tucker. “I do remember, as a graduate assistant, coaching in that stadium and it’s something I’ve always cherished.”
One of the biggest questions going into MSU’s opener versus the Scarlet Knights is centered around the quarterback position. Who will be the starter?
“We won’t be announcing the quarterback today (Tuesday),” said Tucker. “There’s been fierce competition at so many positions, including quarterback, and so as this week unfolds and the game plan’s installed we’ll make a decision.”
Since the Big Ten decided to reinstate the season, new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson said all three quarterbacks (Rocky Lombardi, Payton Thorne, and Theo Day) were all getting equal amount of reps in practice. However, later in his Zoom interview Tucker brought up freshman Noah Kim. Mentioning how he has a lot of talent.
“For Rocky, Payton, Theo, and Noah, the most important thing was really to connect with Jay,” said Tucker. “Understand his process and how he sees that position being played, and learning the scheme, and that’s where those guys have grown.”
Tucker also said he would not be releasing a depth chart due to it being such a unique year. He’s trying to prepare everyone to play. Also, he plans to have weekly game captains. He and the coaching staff will select those captains.
“At the end of the season the players will vote on captains,” said Tucker. “Those will be the permanent captains for this particular season.”
Overall, much like the preseason, Tucker is maintaining an element of surprise for his debut and Saturday’s opener versus Rutgers, which will air live on the Big Ten Network.