Editor's note: This story was updated on Nov. 21, 2023.
The Michigan State Spartans football program fired head coach Mel Tucker earlier this season after allegations of sexual harassment against him arose.
BetMichigan.com 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, BetMichigan.com developed hypothetical odds on who could replace Tucker.
Candidates To Succeed Mel Tucker
New Favorite For Spartans Job
Our odds-on favorite to succeed Tucker had been 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.
But our new favorite in late November is Mike Elko, the head coach at Duke. Elko had his Blue Devils off to a 4-0 start after a Week 1 upset of Clemson. Duke has tailed off since then, but the team is still bowl eligible at 6-5. We rate Elko with +450 odds, or an 18.2% chance, of leaving Durham for East Lansing.
These are hypothetical odds, exclusive to BetMichigan.com. For things you actually can bet on, turn to BetMichigan for the best Michigan sports betting bonuses before you place a wager.
Other Contenders For MSU Opening
Two more current FBS head coaches are next on our list, Lance Leipold of Kansas and Jason Candle of Toledo. Leipold's Jayhawks are 7-4 and heading for a bowl, with their season highlight being an upset win over Oklahoma on Oct. 28. We give him +600 odds of landing the MSU gig. Candle, in his eighth season at Toledo, has led the Rockets to two MAC championships. They’re 10-1 this season and headed for another conference title game on Dec. 2 against Miami of Ohio.
Two current Pac-12 head coaches join Candle with a 12.5% chance (+700 odds). Jonathan Smith of Oregon State and Jedd Fisch of Arizona have led two previously struggling programs back to prominence. Smith’s Beavers are 8-3 this season, 5-3 in the conference. Fisch has pulled off perhaps an even more impressive turnaround with the Wildcats, who went from 5-7 last season to 8-3 in 2023 after the coach inherited a program on an 11-game losing streak.
Two more current head coaches are tied for sixth with +1250 odds (a 7.4% chance). Matt Campbell has had an excellent record at Iowa State, traditionally a tough place to win, and has the Cyclones sitting at 6-5 this season. Marshall head coach Charles Huff has led the Thundering Herd to a 5-6 mark thus far this season.
As for Barnett, we now say he has just a 6.3% chance, or +1500 odds, the same as former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. But you won’t find these odds at Michigan sportsbook apps, only here at BetMichigan.com. Meyer’s tenure as Jacksonville Jaguars coach in the NFL ended quickly and in a shroud of controversy, but he knows how to win on the college level.
Wisconsin defensive coordinator Mike Tressel, Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi and Ohio State offensive coordinator Brian Hartline have fallen off our board, as has former Wisconsin interim head coach Jim Leonhard.
The Spartans are 21-point underdogs at Caesars Michigan Sportsbook for Saturday’s season finale against Penn State. At 4-7, the Spartans are not eligible to go to a bowl game.