MSU's Mel Tucker completes staff with defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton
East Lansing — Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker has rounded out his coaching staff, naming Scottie Hazelton defensive coordinator Friday.
Hazelton, who was the defensive coordinator at Kansas State last season, is the 10th and final on-field assistant to be hired as Tucker put the finishing touches on his staff a little more than two weeks after he was hired to replace Mark Dantonio.
“Scottie definitely has the mentality you’re looking for in a defensive coordinator,” Tucker said in a statement. “He’s a leader with an infectious personality and he’s an excellent teacher. He’s learned from some of the great defensive minds in the game throughout his career. Scottie has been a defensive coordinator multiple times, including at the Power 5 level, he’s coached in the NFL, and he’s been on a staff that won a national championship. I couldn’t be more excited about hiring Scottie as our defensive coordinator to lead our outstanding defensive staff.”
In addition to Hazelton, the Michigan State staff includes Jay Johnson (offensive coordinator), Chris Kapilovic (offensive line/run game coordinator), William Peagler (running backs) Ted Gilmore (tight ends), Courtney Hawkins (wide receivers), Ron Burton (defensive line), Mike Tressel (TBA), Harlon Barnett (defensive backs) and Ross Els (special teams).
The Wichita Eagle reported Thursday that Hazelton was expected to be paid at least $1 million per season, a substantial jump after he made $550,000 at Kansas State, according the USA Today’s database of all assistant coaching salaries. Tucker has a pool of $6 million to hire his staff and Kapilovic’s contract, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, will pay him $700,000 a year.
Hazelton’s hiring brings a coach with 24 years’ experience at both the college and NFL levels. He was at Kansas State just one season but helped the Wildcats rank second in the Big 12 in scoring defense, allowing just 21.4 points per game, the program’s best mark since 2003. The Wildcats also ranked first in the Big 12 and second in the FBS in third-down defense (.280) while ranking second in the conference and 15th in the FBS in fewest first downs allowed (224). Kansas State was also second in the league in pass defense (202.9 ypg) and ranked fourth in the Big 12 in total defense (368.4 ypg).
Before Kansas State, Hazelton was defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Wyoming for two seasons, helping the Cowboys rank in the top 25 nationally both seasons in total defense and top 30 nationally in scoring defense.
Hazelton spent three seasons in the NFL as assistant linebackers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2014-16. Prior to his time in the NFL, Hazelton coached for five seasons at North Dakota State from 2007-11. He was the defensive line coach from 2007-09 before taking over as defensive coordinator and coaching the linebackers in 2010 and 2011. From there he was at Southern Cal in 2012 as linebackers coach and spent the 2013 season as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Nevada.
Hazelton’s career began in 1996 at his alma mater, Fort Lewis College in Colorado. He was defensive backs coach for three seasons before heading to North Dakota State as a defensive graduate assistant in 2000 and 2001. From there it was on to St. Olaf College in Minnesota where he was recruiting coordinator and defensive backs coach from 2002-03. He then went to Missouri Southern State in 2004-05 as defensive coordinator and safeties coach. In 2006, he coached the linebackers and special teams at Michigan Tech before returning to North Dakota State in 2007.