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Spartans get their man from Colorado

The Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Mel Tucker recalled making $400 a month when he began his career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State, sleeping under his desk hoping to be noticed when coach Nick Saban walked in or out of the building.

Two-plus decades later, Tucker is back to lead the Spartans and he won’t have to sleep on the floor.

Tucker signed a six-year deal worth $5.5 million per season, more than doubling the total compensation from his contract at Colorado, to lead Michigan State’s football program. He made the jump to the Spartans after a single season leading the Buffaloes, who went 5-7.

“Leaving Colorado was the toughest thing that I’ve ever done in my career, in my life, actually,” Tucker said Wednesday night. “But this is the right time for me to be here and that’s really what it comes down to. The commitment is here. The resources are here.”

Michigan State landed a leader with extensive experience and ties to the school after appearing to be interested in coaches including Luke Fickell, Robert Saleh and Pat Shurmur.

Tucker said Michigan State showed interest in him late last week and the feeling was mutual. He said there was a time in the process, which was filled with a lot of “great candidates,” that he decided to take a step back.

“The search continued and circled back to me,” Tucker said.

Tucker replaces Mark Dantonio, who retired two weeks ago after 13 mostly successful seasons.

“Mel brings a championship pedigree, NFL experience, connections to our region, success on the recruiting trail and head coaching experience to our program,” athletic director Bill Beekman said.

Colorado hired Tucker in December 2018, and gave him an opportunity to run the Pac-12 program after he was Georgia’s defensive coordinator. He was given a five-year, $14.75 million contract to lead the Buffaloes, and they matched their 5-7 record from each of the previous two years.

“We are disappointed to see coach Tucker leave,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said.

Michigan State offered Tucker a huge raise and a chance to work in a more powerful conference in a region he calls home. The 48-year-old Tucker is from Cleveland and was a Big Ten championship-winning defensive back at Wisconsin.

Tucker’s departure, though, caught many by surprise, after he and George issued statements Saturday that seemed intended to quell speculation about him going to Michigan State.

Tucker also posted on his Twitter account over the weekend: “While I am flattered to be considered for the head coaching job at Michigan State, I am committed to CU Buffs Football for the build of our program, its great athletes, coaches and supporters.”

Even as recently as Tuesday, Tucker was making the media rounds, pumping up the Buffaloes and their bid to build the program back into a contender. He had also been meeting with alumni and donors to drum up support.

Tucker spoke with his new team, shortly after arriving on a flight from Colorado, and linebacker Antjuan Simmons described the meeting as intense.

“We’re ready,” Simmons said, looking at Tucker during a news conference. “We’re going to play for you. The head of the program changes, the expectations for the program don’t.”

OSU boots 2 off team

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Ohio State University football players were kicked off the team Wednesday after being charged with rape and kidnapping.

Defensive backs Amir I. Riep and Jah L. Wint, both 21, were booked into jail earlier in the dafter they were charged with sexually assaulting a woman on Feb. 4 at the players’ shared apartment.

“I am not making any statement on the criminal charges, but it is clear they did not live up to our standards and my expectations,” coach Ryan Day said in a statement. “The athletics department will make sure they both continue to have access to the health and well-being resources available to students and student-athletes.”

Day said he would not comment further on the case.

The men were scheduled to be arraigned today. It was not immediately clear whether they had attorneys.

The woman told police that she was having consensual sex with Riep before Wint came into the room and both forced her to have sex.

After several minutes, they stopped and Riep told the woman that she needed to say what happened was “consensual on a video recording while laughing at her,” according to police. Riep then told the woman she needed to shower before driving her back to her home.

“We are aware that two of our students have been arrested and criminally charged,” Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said in a statement.

Riep is a 6-foot-1, 185-pound cornerback entering his senior season for Ohio State, while Wint is a 6-foot, 198-pound redshirt senior safety.

Riep was expected to compete for a starting job after the departures of Damon Arnette and Jeff Okudah. Wint, who got more playing time in 2018 than last season, would have been in the mix at strong safety.

The charges were a blow to a program that has avoided major off-the-field trouble as Day begins his second year at the helm. Last season, All-American defensive end Chase Young was suspended for two games after it came to light that he had accepted a personal loan in violation of NCAA rules.

Ohio State was 13-1 last season, its only loss against Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal. Spring practice starts March 2, and the Buckeyes open the 2020 season at home Sept. 5 against Bowling Green.

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