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Mel Tucker established culture at Michigan State, now he just wants to win

Before Mel Tucker became a coach, he sold meat out of the back of his truck, with money coming from commissions. His drive to succeed started there and grew at MSU.

INDIANAPOLIS — Before Michigan State head football coach Mel Tucker became a coach of any kind, his job was to sell meat out of the back of his truck.

All of his money came from commission, and he was told, ‘No,’ countless times going door-to-door selling meat.

It was a grind, but Tucker learned something from that job that he preaches to his players in East Lansing the hard work doesn’t stop if you want to accomplish something big. 

“No one cares what you did on the door you knocked on 10 doors ago with the sale you just made,” Tucker said. “You have to do it all day everyday over and over again, and you get what you earn.”

Tucker has earned a lot of respect for what he has done at Michigan State. In year one in East Lansing for Tucker, the Spartans won just two games while navigating through the Covid-19 pandemic. In year two, the Spartans won 11 games, beat Michigan and were the Peach Bowl champions.

It’s year three of the Mel Tucker era now, and he’s not selling meat, but hard work. That hard work starts with building personal relationships with his team.

“We really know our players,” Tucker said. “We get to know them very well. It’s called the speed of trust. The players start to trust you and then you can get things done a lot faster.”

Tucker certainly wants to win every game on the schedule, and he wants to accomplished it as fast as he can.

“I don’t know anyone who wants to win as bad as he does, honestly,” Michigan State safety Xavier Henderson. “He wants it. He used to sleep in his office during the season for periods of time. Just trying to figure out ways to get better.”

That desire to get better has the Spartans all-in on Tucker’s approach. 

“He’s all about business,” Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed said. “If you are not going to buy in, then you are out.”

The Spartans say they are bought in, and are not surprised of what they have seen from Tucker.

“To see where things are at now, this is what I was expecting,” Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne said. “To play for Coach Tucker and to play behind Coach Tucker, I believe in everything he is preaching and I agree that the standard has been set.”

With everything set in stone, Tucker says the culture will soon result in more consistent winning at Michigan State.

“There is no secret to what we are doing,” Tucker said. “It’s just a lot of hard work. Just have to grind it out and keep chopping.”

The Spartans will keep on chopping away until the season begins at home on Sept. 2 against Western Michigan.


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