The Head Coach Search begins: Who Will Take Over At Michigan State In 2024

The Head Coach Search begins: Who Will Take Over At Michigan State In 2024

Michigan State needs to retool at the top


Mel Tucker is officially on unpaid leave, we can only assume he has coached his last game at Michigan State University.  I don’t want to get into too much of what it’s been like to be an MSU fan over the past five years and will just leave it at “if you know, you know.”  Life moves on, and we at TNT are not just a Midwest podcast so we’ve pulled together a list of all different scenarios for potential hires out there from guys with head coaching experience, to coaches that won’t fit, to guys on the rumor mill that honestly, probably would not take the job if offered.  Listen… it’s going to be one of the best, if not the best job open in the next coaching cycle.  Michigan State football holds a rich history of winning, the community is great, the donor base is there, the infrastructure is nearing completion with the football facility and the locker room is completely done.  As previously stated, the below options are simply some names to look out for and the university will make the decision in the end – but these are some names for you to keep an eye on.  If you want to listen to some of our discussion surrounding everything going on you can check it out in the embed or at the link here and a five star review and follow never hurt as well.

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Current P5 Coaches Who Would Fit in the Michigan State Head Coach role

Pat Narduzzi (Pittsburgh HC)

I didn’t want to start off the list but Narduzzi is going to be a name that you see everywhere you look on possible coach lists.  He was in East Lansing for eight years as the defensive coordinator from 2007-2014 and had three different units finish inside the top 10 in total defense.  Narduzzi has also continued to have good defenses at Pitt since his departure from MSU.  He can be a little bit out of pocket and it seemed he felt a little bit slighted when he wasn’t considered for the job in 2020 but if you need somebody who knows the program and how it operates, Narduzzi is a more than viable option.


Dave Doeren (NC State HC)

A name you usually don’t ever see on any lists but Dave Doeren is a guy that should definitely at least be called by the new administration to see where he’s at right now.  Doeren has said he wants to retire at NC State but the opportunity to move up can always sway a man.  Doeren has been at NC State since 2013 where the Wolfpack compete in the tougher side of the ACC (until they went no divisions in 2023).  Very similar to MSU having to play scUM, Penn State, and OSU every year… NC State would deal with Clemson, FSU, and tough opponents Wake Forest, Louisville, and Syracuse.  He’s made a bowl game eight out of ten years and won 8 or more games six times during that stretch.  Midwest experience isn’t a requirement in my eyes but just a little added bonus that he did coach at Wisconsin before heading over to Northern Illinois where he did take the Huskies to a BCS bowl game.  Once again, I’m not sure if he’d take the job if offered but MSU should at least see where his head is at.


Matt Campbell (Iowa State HC)

Matt Campbell’s name is going to show up on every big head coach opening, that’s just the way it is.  He is by far the best head coach in the history of Iowa State football which in my opinion is the hardest coaching job of any P5 school.  Regardless of what you think about Campbell’s track record, what he has done in Ames is very impressive.  Campbell always has a great defense on the field but my long standing take on Campbell is that his best seasons are tied to the success of his past NFL caliber running backs like David Montgomery or Breece Hall.  The offense is usually anemic and while I will forever love Kenneth Walker, I don’t need another coach that will only have a “successful” season if his entire scheme is built around the running back having a stellar season.  I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Michigan State tries to bring him in for an interview but it’s not my decision on who they offer to be the head coach.  


Mark Stoops (Kentucky HC)

Leadership and defensive success immediately come to mind when you throw Mark Stoops’ name into the hat.  UK isn’t the most desirable job when it comes to football and they seem to have their own internal rifts between the basketball and football programs which is something you don’t see at Michigan State.  Stoops has maybe the most coach friendly contract in college football and just got an extension but MSU could possibly match the price and the upgrade in resources would be a tremendous fit for Stoops if he received an offer to move to East Lansing.  He’s done a great job at UK and as long as they’re fine winning 7 or 8 games it will be hard for anybody to pry him away.

Don’t Fit The Program But Could Work


Dave Clawson (Wake Forest HC)

I would love it if Clawson would consider the job but a lot of factors have me thinking that he wouldn’t even sniff it.  He has built a strong program at Wake Forest and proven time and time again he can find talent on the offensive side of the ball but overall he doesn’t care too much about recruiting which is a strong need at MSU.  On top of that, Clawson has headed up the push for a new $38,000,000 football facility in Winston Salem and it just seems like a really weird time for him to leave.  If he did get the offer and came to East Lansing it would be nice to see his slow mesh offense at work in the Big 10.


Jonathan Smith (Oregon State HC)

It’s been a fun couple of years to see Jonathan Smith move up in the world of coaching.  The former Oregon State QB, has achieved success at Oregon State that many would have agreed were unattainable.  I don’t see him leaving his home but with conference realignment up in the air you at least have to give the 44 year old golden boy a call to see where he is at.  Currently Smith’s salary is only at $4.85 million and money always plays a factor in any decision.


Chip Kelly (UCLA HC)

Don’t love that I put Chip on this list but he’s one of the most proven coaches out there that could make a move.  His record is sitting right around .500 at UCLA but they’ve really improved over the last couple of years leading to an extension through 2025 for Kelly.  He hasn’t been off the west coast in the college world since the middle 2000s but the opportunity with more resources at MSU could be enough for him to make a move.

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Up And Comers Worth a Shot


Harlon Barnett (MSU Intermediate HC)

It’s going to be a big tryout for Harlon and he’s got a ton of work to do in a short amount of time.  Barnett played at MSU, played in the NFL, and has been an assistant at the university, despite a one year stint (where he left to be the DC at FSU under Willie Taggart), since 2007.  Harlon has already said the Michigan State head coaching position is his dream job and he’ll have a good trial period to show why he deserves it full time.


Lance Leipold (Kansas HC)

Leipold is popping up with every head coach search that takes place but he really seems to love Kansas.  After leading D3 powerhouse Wisconsin-Whitewater to several national titles it was time for him to make the jump to the FBS level.  He succeeded at Buffalo and he hasn’t disappointed in his short tenure in Lawrence where the Jayhawks just went to a bowl game for the first time in almost fifteen years.  Leipold is already off to a hot start in 2022, and the school is backing the football program really well with large renovations to the stadium.  Leipold is also already 59 years old so if it ends up looking like a full rebuild at MSU, I’m not so sure he would want to go through that again with all the hard work he’s put in at Kansas.


Mike Elko (Duke HC)

Without a doubt probably the hottest name in the upcoming cycle, Mike Elko had Duke to a 9 win team in his first year and they’re off to another hot start with their biggest win in program history over Clemson.  Duke comes with the same challenge as Kentucky or Kansas in that basketball will overrun most, if not all football hype once they get into season.  Elko has experience in other areas of the country with success at Notre Dame and Texas A&M as a defensive coordinator so that’s an added plus tok.  He looks like the real deal and any school with a head coach opening should look to see where his head is at.


Jake Dickert (Washington State HC)

Dickert is really coming onto the scene the last couple of weeks and has done a really good job at Washington State considering what he inherited.  Much like Jonathan Smith and Oregon State, the Cougars don’t have a landing spot secured for 2024 and an opportunity in a stable, big time conference could be very enticing.  He has some midwestern roots in Minnesota and Wisconsin but he may not have enough experience running a big program the way Michigan State is built, just yet.


Charles Huff (Marshall HC)

Huff is a name not many people know but should start to learn it very quickly.  He reached a bowl game in his first two years at Marshall and was able to knock off Notre Dame with a major upset along the way.  Huff comes with plenty of experience as an assistant at major programs like Alabama, Penn State, and had been in the state of Michigan at Western Michigan for the 2013 season.  Huff has also done a great job hiring coordinators as well as Lance Guidry helped the Thundering Herd to a top 10 defense in 2022 before leaving for Miami.  Huff would possibly be a great hire but still might be too inexperienced as a head coach for the Spartans.


Jason Candle (Toledo HC)

Candle has been the head coach at Toledo since 2015 where he took over at just 35 years of age.  He’s led the Rockets to two MAC championships in his time and learned under Matt Campbell.  He does do a great job in the state of Michigan as far as recruiting goes but he may not have the national reach that is required at the next level.  He will be a head coach at the P5 level someday but not sure if this will be his time.

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Probably Wouldn’t Take The Job But Deserve a Call


Chris Klieman (Kansas State HC)

Klieman has a similar story to Leipold.  He coached North Dakota State to several FCS titles and is on a good success path at Kansas State.  He just signed an 8 year deal at $5.5 million dollars per year.  Michigan State would really have to open up their wallet and even then I’m not sure that he would come to East Lansing.

Kalen DeBoer (Washington HC)

DeBoer immediately turned the Huskies around from a 4 win to 11 win team in his first year.  His offenses are outstanding and they seem to look the part again this year.  I’m not sure if he’d take the job as he is building an amazing program but he is currently sitting at $4.7 million per year.  I think Washington would match anything Michigan State would offer.

Dan Mullen (Former Mississippi State and Florida HC)

Dan Mullen has been out of the coaching game for a bit, and while he was 34-15 at Florida, he fell behind his big competitors and it was time to move on.  Before Florida, he was the best coach in the history of Mississippi State football.  He led Mississippi State to heights they had never seen before and if he did end up at Michigan State he would have far better resources than he did in Starkville.  One thing he would have to correct: when he was at Florida his recruiting classes weren’t great but he hasn’t been around the NIL game too much, so that could change quickly.

Deion Sanders (Colorado HC)

I really don’t need to explain this part.  Even if he came he’d probably be there for two or three years and that wouldn’t work for the Michigan State needs.

Current Coordinators Worth Reaching Out To


Glenn Schumann (UGA DC)

Schumann has been an assistant at Alabama or UGA since he graduated college at the University of Alabama in 2008.  He started there as a graduate assistant where really started working under Kirby and Saban with the linebackers.  Schumann was the first hire to Smart’s staff at UGA where Kirby referred to him as his “right hand man.”  He started working with the linebackers at UGA and was named co-DC with current Oregon HC Dan Lanning for the 2019 season.  Schumann has a track record of developing good talent and has been a part of six national championship teams.  The 33 year old seems to be almost a Bill Belichickian guru of defense and should definitely be a name called during the coaching search.

Jim Leonhard (Illinois Analyst)

Former Wisconsin DC Jim Leonhard has been linked to several different jobs throughout the past couple of years.  He was the interim at Wisconsin last year but wasn’t retained for the full time head coach position after the season.  Leonhard would be a great fit but his mission has always seemed to be an NFL coach so not sure if this hire would work for stability reasons.

Sean Lewis (Colorado OC)

Lewis left his head coaching job at Kent State to be the offensive coordinator at Colorado.  Kent State was a disaster when he got there, Lewis turned it around, and now it’s a disaster after he left.  We’ve seen how good the Colorado offense has been this year and with his Midwest roots Lewis should definitely receive a call.

Ryan Grubb (Washington OC)

If you can’t get DeBoer maybe you try for the guy who is helping him with his offense.  Grubb turned down the Alabama OC job this off-season to stay in Seattle so he’s clearly looking for a head coaching job.  It’s a big jump to go from coordinator to head coach of a large P5 program but Grubb could possibly do it.

Brian Hartline (Ohio State OC)

Hartline has finally taken on more responsibility at OSU this year and is possibly the single best recruiter in the entire nation.  He’s been around Ohio State since he left the NFL and definitely has learned enough about running a program by now to be able to do so.  Hartline should definitely receive a call at least to see where he’s at this off-season.

Hope you guys enjoyed reading or listening. Please don’t hesitate to leave any comments and other possible names you have and as always don’t tweet at recruits!

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THIS IS AN ARTICLE WRITTEN BY Tailgates and Turnovers

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