Next Michigan State Football Head Coach Odds

Next Michigan State Football Head Coach Odds
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

The Michigan State Spartans football program made it official on Wednesday, firing head coach Mel Tucker after allegations of sexual harassment against him arose. continues its coverage of Michigan sports betting by speculating about who might lead the Big Ten stalwart in 2024 in the wake of Tucker's termination, developed hypothetical odds on who could replace Tucker.


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Candidates To Succeed Mel Tucker

Coach Current Role Odds % Chance
Harlon Barnett MSU Interim Head Coach +500 16.7%
Mike Elko Duke Head Coach +600 14.3%
Mike Tressel Wisconsin Defensive Coordinator +700 12.5%
Charles Huff Marshall Head Coach +900 10.0%
Lance Leipold Kansas Head Coach +1000 9.1%
Jason Candle Toledo Head Coach +1000 9.1%
Brian Hartline Ohio State Offensive Coordinator +1250 7.4%
Pat Narduzzi Pittsburgh Head Coach +1250 7.4%
Jim Leonhard Illinois Senior Defensive Analyst +1500 6.3%
Other --- +300 25.0%

Interim Coach Is Favorite

Our odds-on favorite to succeed Tucker is his interim replacement, Harlon Barnett, who played with the Spartans from 1986-89. After a seven-year NFL playing career, Barnett, 56, began on the coaching track. Barnett has served as an assistant coach at LSU, Cincinnati, Florida State and Michigan State, spending the past two decades readying himself for this opportunity.

We say Barnett has a 16.7% chance, or +500 odds. But you won’t find these odds at Michigan sportsbook apps, only here at

“That's always been a goal of mine,” Barnett said this month during his introductory press conference on his prospects of being a head coach someday, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I'm a Spartan through and through. And anybody who knows me knows that I am a Spartan, they will tell you, ‘That dude is green all day.’ So I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to be the head coach here. Again, not liking the circumstances. I think the players, I connect with those guys in a good way.”

That Spartan pride is among the reasons why we have Barnett as the clubhouse favorite to land the job on a full-time basis.

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Other Contenders For MSU Opening

Second to Barnett on our list is Duke coach Mike Elko, who has his Blue Devils at 4-0 after a Week 1 upset of Clemson. Duke is ranked No. 18 in the Associated press poll this week. Elko is +600 on our odds board, giving him a 14.3% chance to go to East Lansing for his next coaching stop.

Next comes Mike Tressel, the nephew of Ohio State national championship coach Jim Tressel. Mike Tressel has been defensive coordinator at Michigan State, as well as Cincinnati and Wisconsin. He’s now with the Badgers as DC under Luke Fickell. Tressel checks in at +700 on our MSU odds board, which translates to a 12.5% chance.

Marshall head coach Charles Huff has +900 odds, a 10% chance. He has led the Thundering Herd to a 3-0 mark heading into this Saturday's game against Old Dominion.

Two more current FBS head coaches are tied at +1000 on our hypothetical odds, Lance Leipold of Kansas and Jason Candle of Toledo. Leipold's Jayhawks are 4-0 and ranked No. 24 this week heading into a Big 12 matchup at No. 3 Texas (BetMGM Michigan Sportsbook has the Longhorns as a 16.5-point favorite). Candle, in his eighth season at Toledo, has led the Rockets to two MAC championships.

Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi, a former MSU defensive coordinator, and Ohio State offensive coordinator Brian Hartline are next at +1250 odds. The final name among our prospects is former Wisconsin interim head coach Jim Leonhard, at +1500 (a 6.2% chance). He’s now the senior football analyst at Illinois, entering coaching after a 10-year playing career in the NFL. We rate the chances of any other outcome at +300, or 25%.

Michigan State University, which suspended Tucker after the initial reports of his activity came out, made it official on Wednesday. The school posted a statement about why it had Mel Tucker fired as football coach, weeks into his fourth season in charge of the Spartans. The statement said, in part: "Specifically, the university terminated Tucker's contract for his admitted and undisputed behaviors which have brought public disrespect, contempt and ridicule upon the university; and constitute a material breach of his agreement, and moral turpitude."

The Spartans are 12.5-point underdogs at Caesars Michigan Sportsbook for this Saturday’s game at Big Ten rival Iowa.



Christopher Boan is a staff writer for He has covered sports and sports betting for more than seven years and has worked for publications such as, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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