INDIANAPOLIS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker stepped on the podium at Big Ten Media with confidence, and he had a good reason for it. The Spartans are coming off an 11-2 season, but Tucker says that was only a step in the right direction. 

“No one cares what you did last year, we certainly don’t, we have a lot of work to do,” said Tucker. 

From a two-win season in 2020-21 to an 11-win season in 2021-22, the Spartans’ one-year turnaround is one of the best in Big Ten history. It’s leaving many wondering how much further the Spartans can go from here, after finishing last season with a Top-10 spot in the national rankings, and a Peach Bowl win over Pitt. 

“I just think that there’s a better understanding of what our standards are,” said Tucker. “And that’s throughout our team. Guys know what to expect. It’s really strengthening the culture, and cementing it, instead of building it.”

There’s no guarantees that success will be sustained, although the standards have been set high for Tucker’s third year with the program. Michigan State signed Tucker to a 10-year $95-million dollar contract extension, making him one of the highest-paid coaches in the country. Now, it’s up to the Spartans to show they can do more than 11-2.

“We’re still in proving mode, we’re still proving ourselves, and it’s always going to be that way,” said Tucker. “We’re always going to have a chip on our shoulder, we’re always going to be hungry, and if we don’t have that mindset, we can’t have a program.”