How Mel Tucker’s Words and Phrases Shape Michigan State Football
On September 20, Mel Tucker posted a public service announcement from the Michigan State’s Twitter and Instagram account to “pack the pyre” for Saturday night’s game against Nebraska.
If you don’t know what the Woodshed refers to, this is the nickname Tucker and the Spartan football team have adopted for Spartan Stadium. It’s an ode to the Nick Saban Michigan State teams of the late ’90s, where Tucker started coaching as a graduate assistant, who first invented Woodshed.
Tucker wants a boisterous and proud atmosphere for Saturday night’s game and uses Woodshed as a way to promote the feeling that Spartan Stadium is a hostile environment for opposing teams. It’s also the last of one of the many “coach-speak” sayings that Tucker and the social media team have implemented this year.
The use of social media is one of the most significant changes between the last regime under Mark Dantonio and now under Tucker. Tucker is very active on social media to build the Michigan State online brand for recruiting and posts like Pack the Woodshed this week are a prime example.
Watching Michigan State Football and Tucker’s social media can be a mental exercise in decoding what they say every now and then.
Whether it’s calling Spartan Stadium the Woodshed, repeating over and over “the standard is the standard,” Tucker has an endless encyclopedia of coaching talk that he uses in practice, with the media and. with the fans.
Little jokes such as “the norm is the norm” and improvement through “the aggregate of marginal gains” have been with Tucker throughout his two seasons in charge, but have become more amplified this year.
Many sayings, like the two above, Tucker repeats with the team throughout practice sessions and media with reference to how he wants the team to play and focus on improving. “The norm is the norm” means that expectations about team performance do not change, regardless of the opponent or the situation.
While it might seem a bit of a stretch, the state of Michigan fully embraced the Tucker-isms this year after the results started showing. Players started saying some of the quotes themselves, like Xavier Henderson saying they got better with marginal gains during the Big Ten Media Days, and that only increased as the wins went on. started to accumulate in the first few weeks of the season.
“I really like some of the things he does, like keep cutting,” center Matt Allen said, imitating a knife cutting with his hands. “I really like this one, just because it’s like you’ve got a bad game or something’s wrong, just skip ahead to the next game. Because Coach Kap (offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic) always talks about the fact that each game is a series of its own and you just have to run that game. ”
The coaching speech is not tiring for the players, who are with Tucker and the rest of the staff more than anyone.
“I like them all a bit,” Allen said. “I also really like taking them to the deep water. Getting them to round 15 is a very similar thing. This is where we want to be and this is what we work so hard for every day.
Each player seems to have their own favorite Tucker-ism that they use from time to time with the media and on social media, but the most common is relentless.
Tucker wants the team to have a relentless mindset on and off the pitch to improve and he makes sure they know it. Every social media post from an MSU football coach or account ends with “#RELENTLESS,” and Tucker uses the word generously to describe how the team can always push harder.
The players are completely convinced by the mindset, Tucker said, because it has helped them do the job they need to do to improve.
“There is nothing flippant about what we do,” Tucker said. “From the minute these guys come in, the minute they get out of here, there’s a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done a certain way. … it’s going to be like that everyday, I mean I’m going all day. So go on, or it won’t be fun. Our guys accept it. ”
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