'I'm all for it': MSU's Mel Tucker favors expanding College Football Playoff
Indianapolis — While there’s been plenty of talk the past couple of days at Big Ten media days about the expansion of the conference with the addition of Southern Cal and UCLA in 2024, the idea of playoff expansion has also been a popular topic.
The idea of expanding from the current four-team format was discussed earlier in the year, but the powers that be could not come to an agreement, meaning any potential changes aren’t likely until after the current deal expires after the 2025 season.
There were multiple reasons why there was no agreement, but over the past two weeks, talk has picked back up as the landscape of the sport changes. From six to 12 to 16 teams, there seem to be plenty of scenarios being discussed.
As for Michigan State coach Mel Tucker, he’s not sure where it will land, but he’s in favor of more teams getting a shot.
“I don't know what that number is going to be and I don't think anyone knows for sure right now,” Tucker said on Wednesday. “I like when more players have an opportunity to win a championship, and you only get so many opportunities to play in so many games.
"We’re all in it to have a chance to win the whole thing, and expansion would do that. It's just, what is it going to look like? Who knows? And what's best for the student-athletes? Not just from a player-safety standpoint, but academically as well. I'm not sure if anyone really knows the answer to that yet.”
The College Football Playoff began during the 2014 season and Michigan State, under then-coach Mark Dantonio, made the four-team field in 2015.
However, the Spartans haven’t been back since, and Tucker is hoping that changes soon.
“I’m all for (expansion),” he said, “I'm all for more teams and more players to get an opportunity to play for a championship.”
Tucker didn’t get pulled into a war of words with former Michigan State defensive coordinator and Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi, who last week suggested the Panthers lost only because they were shorthanded for the game.
“I really prefer not to get into hypotheticals,” Tucker said, “especially games that were played in the past and were decided on the field.”
Last week, Narduzzi suggested the Panthers would have beaten Michigan State in the Peach Bowl — a game the Spartans won, 31-21 — if they had their quarterback and Heisman finalist, Kenny Pickett, on the field.
“(Pickett is) a 21-point difference,” Narduzzi said on the "Bazzy’s Black & Gold Banter" podcast. “Michigan State gets their butt kicked in. And I’ll tell you what, it’s at least a 14-point difference if Nick Patti plays the whole game, I can tell you that. That’s how I feel.”
Narduzzi, ignoring the fact Michigan State played without running back Kenneth Walker III, also took a shot at the Big Ten.
“We talk about Big Ten and SEC and ACC. … That was one of the best Big Ten teams last year, then let’s go to the Big Ten and win it every year,” Narduzzi said.
There were several roster questions answered on Wednesday, including the fact junior Darius Snow is now listed as a linebacker, completing his move from the secondary.
Snow, the nephew of former MSU All-America linebacker Percy Snow, started nine games last year, including eight as the nickel back and one at safety, before spending most of the spring working at linebacker.
“I believe that's a natural position for him,” Tucker said. “He’s a big guy; he’s a physical player and he does have versatility. There still may be a role for him in our secondary in some packages because of his versatility. But he has a nose for the ball and, obviously, he's got the pedigree.
“He looked really good there in the spring and so we feel like that's the best fit for him here and beyond. We really feel like that's his future.”
Tucker also talked about the fact senior tight end Adam Berghorst, who took part in spring practice, will spend this year focusing on playing baseball. A 14th-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2019, Berghorst opted to come to Michigan State and play both football and basketball but has been hampered in both sports by injuries.
“I love Bergie,” Tucker said, adding if Berghorst ever wanted to return to football that he would be open to discussing it with Berghorst.
Tucker also indicated offensive lineman Matt Carrick, who missed the final six games last year because of a right leg injury, is close to returning for what will be his sixth season.
“He’s on the mend,” Tucker said. “I feel like he's going to be able to help us. He's played a lot of football for us and he's been out, but he's worked really hard to get back.”
Back to work
After taking the rest of this week off, it will be time for Michigan State to get to work on preparing for the season. Tucker said the team will report for preseason camp on Aug. 3 and the first practice is set for Aug. 4.
The Spartans kick off the season Sept. 2 against Western Michigan at Spartan Stadium.