Improper conduct, tethered with stone-walling, needless in-fighting and administrators covering their ass, are part of Michigan State University’s DNA like speed is for Usain Bolt.
It’s not a recent problem. It’s been a portion of MSU’s lexicon since it used football as the primary accelerant to transform from a small college into a big-time university following World War II.
Yet, it’s been particularly unsavory the past decade or so.
Michigan State has plenty of wonderful elements, but unfortunately they are persistently overshadowed by various shenanigans, which have made the Big Block “S” often stand for “Stupidity.”
The latest example, of course, is football coach Mel Tucker. His egregious lack of judgement was inconceivable.
So it is especially perplexing that interim MSU president Teresa K. Woodruff said, “It’s not the MSU of old” during the brief news conference about Tucker.
Nothing about the Tucker situation points to a different MSU
Actually, it was the same MSU, featuring all the traditional components like sexual abuse, lack of transparency and utter embarrassment for an institution of academic higher learning.
In the process, Tucker has become low-hanging fruit for the MSU faithful, who in this case can point, accurately, to this as an example of one person acting in an utterly foolish manner.
And that it’s not an example of a lack of oversight and classic Spartan double-dealing on the level of, say, the Larry Nassar tragedy.
But it’s not exactly a moral high ground Tucker was suspended without pay and faces a potentially embarrassing hearing next month if he doesn’t resign. It was base-level discipline under the circumstances.
There is an undercurrent; it is a relief MSU likely isn’t going to be obligated anywhere near the $80 million remaining on Tucker’s ridiculous contract.
He was 5-7 last season. The Spartans’ 2-0 start this season is the result of weakling opponents. Tuck’s no longer coming to the Big Ten. He is departing at just the right time with Washington, Oregon, USC and UCLA arriving. We’ll see that up close Saturday when Washington visits Spartan Stadium.
So it’s an easy out to vilify Tucker and not look inward at MSU finding itself in a shameful spot again.
Was Tucker vetted properly when initially hired during a rushed process? How much of this type of behavior did he display during his three-plus years on campus? If he did, was it overlooked?
Most importantly, who knew what and when in regard to the complaint against Tucker, and why was he still coaching when the media broke the news?
The media outlets covering MSU on a regular basis, administratively and athletically, remain very suspicious, as they should.
It was only compounded by comments by the interim president.
Scandal is nothing new at MSU.
Nor, unfortunately, is the dismissive leading the conveniently clueless.
It’s as MSU as the Red Cedar, Beaumont Tower, Sparty and the colors green and white.