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Michigan State football: Winning would cure everything

Just win, please.

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Michigan State football
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State football has had a tough offseason with seemingly no end in sight but winning would cure just about everything.

It’s been a rough offseason for Michigan State football. Transferring star players, misses on top recruiting targets, decommitments, and coaching departures and changes. It’s been a whirlwind.

Following a disappointing 5-7 season, however, we shouldn’t have expected a perfect offseason. No programs have “perfect” offseasons unless you’re Georgia or Alabama but winning in 2022 would have made this offseason run much smoother.

It all started with the conclusion of bowl hopes following a crushing 2019 Illinois-esque loss to Indiana at home. The Spartans went out and lost at Penn State to end the year.

And then Germie Bernard entered the transfer portal shortly following the season despite being a projected starter in 2023. He would join Jayden Reed as the only receivers leaving the program but Courtney Hawkins’ room looked to still be on the top-tier end of things.

Following this tough departure, defensive line coach Marco Coleman left for his alma mater as Georgia Tech offered him the same job back at home. This would hurt the defensive line recruiting slightly because all of the top targets built relationships with him.

As if the departure of Coleman wasn’t bad enough, pass rush specialist Brandon Jordan took a job with the Seattle Seahawks. He was critical to recruiting elite defensive linemen. Guys like five-star David Stone and four-star Xadavien Sims (now committed to Oregon) took notice.

A few days after Jordan left, four-star 2024 receiver Nick Marsh decommitted.

Michigan State then parted ways with Saeed Khalif who was thought to be a great hire the year prior. It was a move that really started to panic among fans.

A little over a month later and on the final day of the transfer window being open, Payton  Thorne, Keon Coleman, and Charles Brantley all entered their names into the portal. All were potential starters for the upcoming season (Coleman was for sure) and it signaled the final repercussions from the 5-7 season. Coleman decided to transfer to a winner in Florida State, Thorne went to Auburn, and Brantley opted to return.

Wait, did I say those were the final repercussions from the disappointing 2022 campaign? Jamari Howard decommitted in May, top target Xadavien Sims committed to Oregon, and a few top transfer receiver targets picked other schools.

Disaster. Total disaster.

The offseason has come with very little good news and it stems from the disappointing 2022 season which made Mel Tucker’s 2021 campaign look like an outlier.

You know what would likely fix that? Winning.

While things look and feel grim, winning would cure basically everything. It always does.

We are being hard on Tucker and Michigan State football because we expect more. This is a program that has been built into a winner by Mark Dantonio and although the end of his tenure was forgettable, he forever elevated expectations. A five-win season isn’t going to cut it.

If Tucker finishes 5-7 again this season and misses a bowl, you’ll see the trajectory of the program continue to steer downward. If he can right the ship and win 7-8 games and get back to bowl eligibility with a chance at 8-9 total wins, we’ll see the effects of the success. We’ll see recruiting pick up again, players will buy back in, fans will ease off the “hot seat” talk with Tucker, and the program will feel like it’s in a much better place.

But Tucker has to win games first. He needs to show that 2021 wasn’t the outlier but rather 2022 was.

Writer, co-owner of Spartan Shadows. Michigan State and college football expert at FanSided and formerly of The Detroit News. Expert on all things Michigan State. Connor Muldowney has written about Michigan State since graduating from the university with a degree in journalism back in 2013. Ten years of experience as a Michigan State writer/reporter.

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