Michigan St. Coach Mel Tucker Takes “Blue Collar” Buzzwords Bit to Extreme Levels


Everyone knows that preseason football media days are an exercise in speaking for prolonged periods of time without actually saying anything. It’s a cliche convention for the gridiron set, and just in case you forgot the buzzword bingo, well we’ll cover that in a minute.

Michigan State coach Mel Tucker, commencing his second season in East Lansing and attending his first Big Ten Media Day, took to the stage yesterday. He gave a very long-winded opening statement, which used up a large portion of his time on dais. It left less time for reporter questions, and honestly, if I were a coach, I would do the same thing.

Tucker was lacking in energy and pizzaz, with his speaking style leaving much to be desired. However, I have to respect his cliche game, especially his commitment to a certain bit that’s prevalent in football talking season. You know it, you love it, the “gritty blue collar” routine.

Mel Tucker said the following:

“When you think about Michigan State, think about Michigan State football, you think of tough, hard-nosed, physical, meat and potatoes, not a lot of French pastries, all-weather football. That’s what Michigan State football is all about. Rugged, lunch pail, it’s a working program. It’s for the people. It’s for the fans.”

He also added:

“Our fans, our alums, 550,000-plus living alumni, our former players, the Spartan Dawgs, they deserve winning football, the brand of football that they expect, tough, physical, relentless.”

And to make sure he got most of the meathead motif blue collar buzzwords in, Mel Tucker also included:

“We’re just going to keep our head down and continue to go to work. We do have a chip on our shoulder. We really do. We have got a lot to prove.”

You got to hand it to him, he really stayed on theme. His days as Chicago Bears Defensive Coordinator must have obviously exposed him to plenty of living Chicago meathead stereotypes, meatball local talk radio.

Mel Tucker also provided a steady stream of your more garden variety buzz phrases and cliches, the kinds of words that almost every coach does at these things. Tucker told the media assembled at Lucas Oil Stadium:

“As a program, we believe in process. We believe in process. We’re not focused on the outcome. The process of things that you have to do, the behaviors that you have to exhibit day-in and day-out to build a winning organization, to have consistency and performance, attention to detail, sense of urgency, teamwork, togetherness, a culture of accountability. We’re moving in the right direction. We have got a lot of work to do and we’re a work in progress, but the process of day-to-day cementing that culture of accountability is — I feel the momentum.”

And perhaps if you watched along at home on BTN, you heard him say:

“Culture is a process. Infrastructure precedes culture. We have the pieces in place, the staff, the support staff. We have the resources. We have the infrastructure. We have created a winning culture, a winning mindset. Culture is everything. ”

I hope you had process, culture and accountability on your BIG Bingo cards.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the  Chicago Tribune.

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