Bolting Colorado for MSU, Mel Tucker Found the Real-World Transfer Portal Again

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2020

Colorado head coach Mel Tucker, right, speaks with quarterback Steven Montez, left, and running back Jaren Mangham as they come off the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Young Kwak/Associated Press

Public figures love talking a lot while actually saying nothing. In the college football world, this is commonly referred to as coachspeak. And when the media criticizes a coach for something previously said, the result can be more guarded interviews.

Sometimes, the reactions are unfair. But the high-and-mighty mindset of college football coaches regarding transfers only continues to look more foolish.

The latest example comes from Mel Tucker, who Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported is leaving Colorado to become the new head football coach at Michigan State.

That's fine. It makes sense. Totally stinks for the players he guided to Colorado in the last two recruiting classes, but it's the nature of the sport. Tucker had little control of the timing, either; MSU was only searching for a successor to longtime coach Mark Dantonio because he abruptly retired in early February.

No issues. People change jobs all the time.

That, however, is where the problem lies. Only a few months ago, in October 2019, Tucker decried the transfer portal. According to 247Sports' tracker, Colorado had 12 players enter the online database last year and currently has six in the portal.

"There's no transfer portal in the real world," Tucker said in 2019, according to a since-deleted post from Colorado assistant athletic director Curtis Snyder.

Wil Hunter @Wil__Hunter

Sounds like Mel Tucker is considering entering the real world transfer portal https://t.co/yQkQULJ5rJ

Give me a break.

Tucker is entering a third straight season at a different program. After serving as the defensive coordinator for Georgia from 2016-18, he left for Colorado in 2019. Tucker is now returning to the place his coaching career began as a graduate assistant in 1997. This will be the 11th stop of his coaching career.

This is nothing less than career advancement, yet Tucker's comments back in October lacked self-awareness in an enormous way.

How is changing jobs fundamentally different than the transfer portal? Players seek a new location for improved opportunities; Tucker believes Michigan State fits that bill for himself.

After he thought Colorado did.

After he thought Georgia did.

After he thought several other voluntary career changes did. (Tucker has undergone a couple of dismissals, as most coaches do.) None of that movement was ever a problem, andseriouslythis decision, in a vacuum, isn't one either.

Yes, he initially turned down the MSU job publicly. Tucker's reputation has deservedly taken a hit because his decision changed, especially given his final day as Colorado's coach.

Brian Howell @BrianHowell33

Still trying to confirm this report that Mel Tucker has agreed to become the coach at Michigan State, but it's from a reliable source. Insane that he was on the radio 3 times TODAY affirming his commitment to Colorado and I heard he was a donor event in Denver tonight. #cubuffs

Ultimately, this is a result of money talking. And, per Feldman, it spoke rather loudly.

"People with knowledge of Tucker's deal with the Spartans said it doubles his Colorado coaching salary pool (which was $3.15 million in 2019), includes a substantial increase to the Michigan State strength and conditioning staff budget and program resources and will more than double Tucker's Colorado salary, which is around $2.7 million."

Look, if a different company offered to double my current wage, of course I'm listening. You probably would too. That's all important to note, but it's so far from the point.

Like thousands of others, Tucker has spent his coaching life entering the real-world transfer portal. Like millions of others, he's pursued a promising job with a dazzling pay raise. We simply don't call the job marketplace a portal.

But it's the same thing.

Tucker isn't alone in that sentiment; he's simply the latest example. Yet as college football continues to prove itself undeniably a business first, it's well beyond time for coaches to stop pretending that changing jobs is any different than a player searching for a better opportunity somewhere else.


Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.