Michigan State's Mel Tucker named Big Ten Coach of the Year
Mel Tucker orchestrated the biggest turnaround in program history, and on Tuesday the Michigan State coach was named Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Sweeping the conference’s honors — Tucker was named the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year by the coaches and the Dave McClain Coach of the Year by the media — Tucker became the sixth Michigan State coach to earn the honor and first since Mark Dantonio in 2013.
After two victories during a COVID-shortened 2020, Tucker led the Spartans to a 10-2 mark in 2021, including 7-2 in Big Ten play, including a second straight victory over Michigan. The eight-game improvement was one better than 2017 when Michigan State went from three wins to 10 under Dantonio.
Tucker is 17-14 in three seasons as a head coach, including 12-7 at Michigan State. He went 5-7 in 2019 at Colorado.
Named to watch lists for National Coach of the Year by the Dodd Trophy and the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award, Tucker was named national coach of the week by the Dodd Trophy and The Athletic following Michigan State's 37-33 victory over Michigan on Oct. 30. Tucker became the first Michigan State coach to win each of his first two games against the Wolverines following a 27-24 victory in 2020.
No. 12 Michigan State capped the regular season on Saturday with a 30-27 victory over Penn State to go undefeated at home and now waits to see where it will play a bowl game with a New Year’s Six slot a possibility.
More: Michigan's Hutchinson is Big Ten's Defensive Player of Year; Jake Moody top kicker
Fifth-year senior defensive end Jacub Panasiuk was named second-team All-Big Ten along with fifth-year senior punter Bryce Baringer and junior wide receiver Jayden Reed, who earned return specialist recognition.
Panasiuk had nine tackles for loss, including six sacks, 11 quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. According to Pro Football Focus, Panasiuk is third in the FBS in quarterback pressures with 67.
Reed, a Paul Hornung Award finalist, is the only player in Big Ten and one of four in FBS with two punt return touchdowns. He w named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a punt 62 yards for a score against Nebraska.
Baringer leads the Big Ten and ranks third in FBS in punting average (48.6), which is currently the highest average in school history. He is tied for first in Big Ten with 25 punts of 50-plus yards, including 10 for 60-plus yards.
Senior safety Xavier Henderson and junior defensive tackle Jacob Slade were named third-team All-Big Ten by the media and honorable mention by the coaches. Henderson leads the Spartans with 94 tackles, including 10 for loss with three sacks, an interception and a pair of pass breakups. Slade has 37 QB pressures and 32 QB hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.
Sixth-year senior kicker Matt Coghlin, junior linebacker Quavaris Crouch, sophomore safety Darius Snow and redshirt freshman linebacker Cal Haladay all were named honorable mention from the coaches and media.