Mel Tucker Reminded Us Just How Conniving The Coaching World Is
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Mel Tucker news is fascinating. It is yet another reminder that the world of sports is fake and cynical. Before I take a deep dive into how I really feel about this situation, let’s recap the recent events that got us here.
On Wednesday this week, Tucker tweeted that he was “committed to building the program at Colorado” amid rumors that he may be joining the Michigan State Spartans as their new head coach.
While I am flattered to be considered for the HC job @MSU_football, I am committed to @CUBuffsFootball for #TheBuild of our program, its great athletes, coaches & supporters. #UnfinishedBusiness #GoBuffs
— Mel Tucker (@Coach_mtucker) February 8, 2020
I imagine a sense of tranquility was felt throughout the heart of Boulder, Colorado.
Fast forward 72 hours and reports start surfacing that, despite rejecting the Spartans once already, Mel Tucker had accepted the position to take over as head coach in East Lansing. Their second offer was apparently far too good to turn down.
It is worth noting that I do not fault Tucker, I would have done the same thing. Money talks. I do, however, fault the way this all went down. Proclaiming your loyalty to a school, its fanbase and more importantly your players and assistant coaches, only to then run away from them some three days later just seems wrong.
Mel Tucker Brings Big Questions
Why can college coaches not be honest? Why is every team that exists the “dream job” for every single coach, and every opponent “very well coached” despite having a losing record?
This is not the first time something like this has happened. For example, take Nick Saban (circa 2007) when he told reporters that he was not going to be the next coach of Alabama only to get immediately on a jet plane and fly to Tuscaloosa to put on the Alabama hat and announce his commitment to Alabama, and it will not be the last.
I guess, my biggest issue is that coaches have the freedom and option to leave for another school whenever they would like, and the players do not.
The 2019-20 incoming athletes from the recent signing class, that mind you ended only seven days ago, are now stuck not knowing who their next head coach will be. Those kids, however, signed up to play for the Colorado Buffaloes, largely because Coach Tucker was at the helm.
Mel Tucker bolts for @MSU_Football . As a CFB veteran, I fully get it. Say you’re “committed” one day, take $ the next.. it’s purely a business. But for @CUBuffs alums (and players!) it’s a hard slap. I wear both hats in reacting to the news in this vid . https://t.co/2CzIoqrEjq
— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) February 12, 2020
Solving The Problem
One would think that the humane and logical solution to all of this would be that the kids who committed to play for Coach Tucker would now be able to leave Colorado and pursue a different institution. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that they are not.
According to the NCAA, an athlete may only transfer without losing any eligibility if they transfer to a school in a lower division, they have already graduated, or they receive special permission from the NCAA after their waiver has been cleared.
Here is the catch, and here is where I have the biggest problem. Coaches talk to other coaches and athletic directors about future jobs all the time. Yet, athletes are told that it is against the rulebook to discuss with opposing coaches the potential for that athlete to join another program. Athletes are only able to start those discussions once they have put their head on the chopping block with their current (maybe former?) team and entered the transfer portal.
To make it worse, there are now coaches, such as Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente, who has implemented a team rule that states he will not allow players that have entered the transfer portal to return to the team.
Let me make sure you understand this correctly.
Coaches lie to everybody about their commitment to their current school by going behind everybody’s back and discussing future employment options, while players cannot even guarantee their future within the sport before they start talking to other institutions.
It makes no sense.
Fortunately, I have a solution.
Let’s start slow, because we know the NCAA is not going to make any drastic change to any policy, any time soon, so we will try and make life as easy as we can for them.
Allow every athlete one free transfer. No penalty. Nothing.
That way, the kids who signed up to play for Tucker, only for him to leave them in the dust, have a chance at finding a new home without being penalized for essentially nothing of their own fault.