Michigan State's Mel Tucker says focus is on Michigan, not LSU rumors
East Lansing — Mel Tucker says he’s focused on the moment, not rumors that began last week about him being a candidate for the soon-to-be-vacant head-coaching position at LSU.
The Michigan State coach is in the thick of preparing for the No. 8 Spartans’ showdown on Saturday with No. 6 Michigan. However, his Monday press conference was also the first time he met with the media since word started circulating that he is a popular candidate to take over for Ed Orgeron, who will leave LSU at the end of the season.
“My focus is on the upcoming game against the school down the road,” Tucker said. “That's where my concentration and my focus is, and I really appreciate you understanding that.”
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While some Spartans fans would have liked Tucker to shut things down a bit more firmly, he made it clear that the rumors will not be a distraction.
And, quite frankly, it’s a bad time of year for distractions.
Senior safety Xavier Henderson said Tucker has not talked to the team about the rumors and that he’s heard no talk around the locker room about the chatter. When he heard the rumors, Henderson said he “took it with a grain of salt,” and that Tucker was clearly dialed in on this week and this season.
“We have to focus on what matters and what’s gonna affect the outcome of the game,” Tucker said. “One of the things you have to do is eliminate distractions and an invest your time wisely. Where is your attention? Where is your focus? What’s important? What has substance? What matters and what doesn’t?”
The rivalry matchup Saturday is the first time since 2010 Michigan State and Michigan will face each other as unbeatens and the first time as top-10 teams since 1964. The winner will win plenty of bragging rights, but it will also put that team in prime position in the Big Ten East.
Michigan State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) and Michigan (7-0, 4-0) kick off at noon Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
“We all know this is a big week and what this is all about, playing the school down the road for the Paul Bunyan Trophy,” Tucker said. “It's a big game for our players, our university, our fans, our alumni, our Spartan Dawgs. We understand this is not just another game.”