They’ll do it every time.

Another day, another sex scandal at Michigan State. Spartans awoke today to discover USA Today had ripped the sheets back from the bed of their beloved football coach, Mel Tucker. And found him under there, masturbating while having “phone sex” with a woman, a rape survivor, who goes around the country educating college athletes about sexual violence and harassment in sports. Consensual, he says; not so, she says.

I mean.

I read the whole thing, and while I suspect neither party – Tucker or his accuser, Brenda Tracy – is telling the whole truth, at this point it doesn’t matter. When you’re the highest-paid employee (more on that in a minute) at a major university that’s still recovering from the Larry Nassar scandal, you don’t have “phone sex,” or whatever this was, with a woman not your wife. You don’t FaceTime her from your bed, chest uncovered, to complain about your dead marriage. You don’t flirt and comment on her Instagram photos and ask whether she’d date you if you didn’t have the ol’ ball and chain. And so on.

But here’s the thing: Tucker has an insane contract, $9.5 million a year for 10 years, funded in part by two wealthy alumni, the details of which the Free Press had to sue to uncover. He’s the second-highest-paid coach in the country, and the contract is probably responsible for inflating the salaries of many other college coaches. It was forged after a great opening season, and followed by a disappointing one, and now this. At least all the stories so far are pointing out that if Tucker is fired for cause, they don’t have to buy him out. Whew.

I was discussing this with a friend earlier today, and he said, “I guess what we learn from this is, men never learn.”

No, it appears they don’t. At least Tucker is 51, still an age when sex is mostly not a problem. Rudy Giuliani, 79, drooling over an assistant he allegedly called Big Tits, can’t say the same thing. On the one hand, you have to salute the raw biological urge that keeps leading men like this over various cliffs. On the other, holy shit what a dummy.

As another friend said of Bill Clinton at the time the Lewinsky affair broke: “Washington is full of beautiful, sexy, thirtysomething adulteresses who’d have been happy to run over and haul his ashes, but no, he had to pick the 25-year-old intern who was practically doodling ‘Monica Clinton’ in the margins of her notepads.”

He said:

According to Tucker, he became aroused when Tracy made a comment about needing to hit the gym more to look better without clothes on. They then discussed how having phone sex could complicate their relationship, he said, but Tracy suggested once would be harmless and he agreed.

“Unequivocally, there’s no doubt about it,” Tucker told the investigator, case documents show. “She was the one who said we’ll do it.”

She said:

Tracy denies all of that. The call started off normal, she said. But when she sent Tucker a photo of them together from the spring game, she said he responded by commenting on her buttocks and calling himself an “ass man.”

She remembered Tucker’s voice getting deeper and weirder as he continued talking about her buttocks. She asked him what he was doing, and he said he had a “hard dick” and was touching himself.

“You’re touching yourself?” Tracy asked, according to the investigation report. Tucker responded, “Yes.”


Once again, however, the larger issue is MSU’s response when they received this report, in July. Did they immediately suspend Tucker? No. Did they suspend him before the football season started? They did not. They only did so after the USA Today story dropped, which is to say: Today.

Well, I hope he’s been saving his money.

After hearing about the earthquake in Morocco, I went into our photos from our trip there in 2019, remembering the charm of the medina, how parts of this thousand-year-old settlement still look like they haven’t changed much. The view from the rooftop of our riad:

I wonder how much of it was damaged.

Posted at 5:07 pm in Current events |

32 responses to “They’ll do it every time.”

  1. Mark P said on September 10, 2023 at 5:42 pm

    The question of what the school will do reminds me of my old high school, Darlington School in Rome, Ga. A teacher and “dorm parent” was grooming and sexually abusing young boys for years from the ‘70’s into the ‘90’s. He was reported several times. One boy reported to the assistant headmaster, who told the boy he (the boy) had other problems. The school finally settled a suit by a bunch of former students around 2020. What happened to the assistant headmaster? The school named a dormitory house for him.

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  2. Peter said on September 10, 2023 at 9:46 pm

    I’m sorry to go off on a tangent here, but Mel Tucker is 51 years old? That all? That means he was +/- 42 years old when he was on the Bears coaching staff, and when I saw him on the sidelines during a game, I could have sworn he was at least 60 – the bad hair, the stumbling around, the garbled speech.

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  3. Jeff Gill said on September 10, 2023 at 10:11 pm

    I know we have maybe 300 sex offenders out of some 60,000 males between 18 & 65 in my county, and even if the uncharged, unaccused number is five times what’s legally convicted that means 1,500 of 60,000 functional males (we’ll leave Giulianis out of the equation for the moment), so potentially 2.5% of men at most are scum, leaving at least 97.5% of males to be decent, upstanding citizens . . . the relentless parade of molesters & abusers & rapists through my legal field of view leaves me finding it hard to treat almost any fellow Y chromosome holder as a trustworthy fellow humanoid.

    Coach Tucker ain’t helping.

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  4. Sherri said on September 10, 2023 at 11:00 pm

    When Tucker was interviewed by the Title IX investigator hired by MSU, he tried to raise questions about whether Tracy was a rape survivor. Gross.

    During the interview, Tucker also made an explosive new allegation: He said his associate had told him that renowned ESPN investigative reporter Paula Lavigne was investigating the veracity of the gang-rape story at the heart of Tracy’s public persona. The information, Tucker said, made him question how Tracy “goes about her business.”

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  5. LAMary said on September 11, 2023 at 10:02 am

    A Jimmy Hatlo reference? Or should I say, ” a tip of the Hatlo hat?”

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  6. nancy said on September 11, 2023 at 10:34 am

    The MSU fan army is enormous, but not always the sharpest knives in the drawer. For a while, when Tucker was winning, they were flogging a hashtag: #tuckcomin. That’s blowing up in their faces, hilariously, today.

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  7. Dorothy said on September 11, 2023 at 11:05 am

    Jeff I believe that’s what’s called an occupational hazard. Kinda like police or FBI agents (one of my brothers used to be a Special Agent) who can’t sit with their back toward the door of a restaurant. And they’re alway sizing up the room to see if anyone looks particularly shady. I believe they also have trust issues because nearly everyone they arrest lies to them.

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  8. FDChief said on September 11, 2023 at 12:03 pm

    The whole “State U head football coach is the highest paid state employee” thing might be one of the more infuriating facets of state government. The highest paid “regular” state worker in Oregon is the “chief investment officer” who makes a little over $500K/yr.

    The head coach at the public University of Oregon just signed a deal that will pay $30M over 6 years, so $7.5M/yr.

    A full professor at UO took a 3% hit in 2022 to reduce their average pay $140K/yr.

    That’s completely idiotic, but, then, why not? It’s not like it’s the stupidest thing We the People seem to be okay with…

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  9. Suzanne said on September 11, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    This is disgusting. From reading different news stories, he’s not at all denying he did it. Maybe I am not normal for my gender, but I cannot imagine any scenario in which a man masturbating during a phone call with me would excite me in any way. This behavior got Bill O’Reilly in trouble, too. I think there are too many men who are told from little on that they have no control over their sex drives so they believe that they really can’t help themselves.

    I now must go take a shower. Reading that story made me feel dirty.

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  10. Deborah said on September 11, 2023 at 2:03 pm

    Didn’t Jeffery Toobin do something like that while on a zoom call? What is the matter with some people that they can’t control themselves in that regard?

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  11. Jeff Gill said on September 11, 2023 at 2:26 pm

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

    Self-control is a gift; some folks won’t have it even if it’s given to them.

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  12. Julie Robinson said on September 11, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    Everything about football is abhorrent to me and having different standards for players and coaches is the most egregious. I’ve always hated it and nothing I’ve observed over the years has changed my mind. I’m only grateful my sister isn’t alive anymore because she was both a football fan and an MSU grad, and venerated both. It’s clear the house cleaning they did after the gymnastics scandal needs a broader broom.

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  13. Sherri said on September 11, 2023 at 3:08 pm

    Mel Tucker insinuates that Brenda Tracy lies about having been a victim of gang rape at the hands of football players. Here is the story from the Oregon newspaper from 2014, when she first went public about the rape, which happened in 1998.

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  14. annie said on September 11, 2023 at 7:17 pm

    I hate football too – for all the obvious reasons. Yet every year I get caught up in the excitement of the games, the season and look forward to watching. I’m sure there’s a psychological term for this.

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  15. Sherri said on September 11, 2023 at 7:30 pm

    At least now, with NIL, college football players are actually able to get paid. And the transfer restrictions have been loosened, so players can move from school to school almost as freely as coaches. So not all of the money is going to coaches and bowl administrators anymore. No doubt the powers that be* will find a new way to stop this soon.

    *Which is not really the NCAA, not when it comes to football. The NCAA’s power over football is limited. If the NCAA could control football, they would have stopped all the conference realignment, because conference realignment hurts what really matters to the NCAA, men’s basketball. The TV contract for the men’s basketball tournament pays the bills for the NCAA. The money from college football goes to the bowls, the conferences, and the schools, not the NCAA.

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  16. Sherri said on September 11, 2023 at 8:22 pm

    Christina Kahrl is the sports editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and a friend of mine. She got her start at Baseball Prospectus a long time ago, which is where she was when she transitioned to being a woman. She has told me that one person there repeatedly tried to get her fired for being trans, but management always backed her.

    I never asked who the person was, but I knew a lot of the people at BP, and when I ask myself, who was the biggest asshole at BP, only one name comes to mind: Nate Silver. I didn’t know Nate, but nobody else I knew approaches his degree of assholery.

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  17. Sherri said on September 11, 2023 at 8:38 pm

    Personally, I don’t think Teslas should be allowed on public roads. Elon Musk should not be allowed near anything life-critical.

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  18. tajalli said on September 11, 2023 at 9:54 pm

    Considering the earthquake in Morocco and the preference for adobe/mud construction, there are all sorts of fascinating tamped earth constructions with absolutely brilliant designs that could allow a veritable phoenix to arise from the rubble. Something that doesn’t look like army corps of engineering.

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  19. LAMary said on September 11, 2023 at 11:50 pm

    The cliche’ we’ve heard so many times here on the edge of the San Andreas: Earthquakes don’t kill people. Buildings kill people.

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  20. Dexter Friend said on September 12, 2023 at 3:48 am

    I worked with the husband of the local Democratic Party organization chairperson. He accompanied his wife to one of the 1993 Clinton inaugural balls. (There are always several.) He said when President Bill appeared the throng of beautiful mature women charging to be near Bill was astounding. Yeah, he could have had his pick, I suppose.
    The Monica affair was unfortunate. Rudy? You realize, I am sure, that that scene where Rudy was taken to a room, on camera, in that Borat movie was unscripted, and Rudy went in with that actress for lewd sex. Borat then stopped the crew from filming and rushed in to stop the show when Rudy was undressing. Well…that is what Borat said, in an interview as Sacha Baron Cohen, his name.
    I live 100 miles from MSU and 95 miles from Ann Arbor.
    The only connection I have with UM is that I am a football fan, for 53 years, and I used to go to Ann Arbor to eat and shop and ride bikes all over town. Since MSU is the true rival, as some of us see it, I have this what I call a healthy hatred of MSU sports teams. Ya gotta have that for a rival. Of course, the stupid couch burnings aren’t the sole fun stuff of drunked-up students, as stores were looted in Ann Arbor when UM won the NCAA men’s basketball tournament 30 years ago in Seattle.
    Nasser, the shootings, now Tucker…that shit is awful and no sane UM fan cheers that awful stuff, of course.
    It’s just sad. Anyway, I don’t even like driving by that campus. The river there is pretty in the fall, clogged with pretty leaves. Then we read of a body being fished out of that river. I don’t really have a point. I’d have never helped out any of my 3 kids if they would have chosen MSU, however. I kept my trap shut when my youngest chose Ohio State. For her, that worked out. She still lives down that way.

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  21. Dorothy said on September 12, 2023 at 8:11 am

    It’s too bad that most universities and colleges’ reputations are associated with their sports teams. If only we could focus on the education they provide to the students, maybe that could change opinions. My son and his wife are both Ohio State grads. Both were in the Honors & Scholars program. It’s how they met each other. My daughter is a Penn State grad and was also in the Schreyer’s Honors Program. And my son has his Master’s from Penn State, begun online when he was deployed in Afghanistan ten years ago. All three of them have very good jobs and had excellent professors and experiences as students on campus. This is what I think of when I spend any time thinking about colleges.

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  22. LAMary said on September 12, 2023 at 9:16 am

    University of Denver has no football team. Hockey, yes and DU got into trouble once for their recruiting practices. No icky sex scandals, though and it should be noted that going to college in Colorado is wonderful.

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  23. Jeff Gill said on September 12, 2023 at 9:30 am

    Two; really, three things about football & higher education.

    College football is well timed to be a potential recruitment & enrollment driver, which probably has something to do with the money involved. Fall, now defined as August through October, is when you have your first big push, and you start locking in your higher dollar admissions. Even in DIII where there’s no scholarships on the table at all, students who are modestly talented and from families likely to be much closer to full pay are going to like the idea of going to a school where they will play for a team with a winning record. Visiting a campus on a game day Saturday doesn’t have to be a vast stadium and NFL hopes hovering around, but just the vibe of an excited crowd and a place to play: it’s an incredibly effective recruiting tool, and again, for students who will be paying full freight in many cases, with parents happy to pony up if they can count on coming to visit and see their lad on the field.

    But for bigger schools, there’s an unmistakable spike in applications when the football team has a good year. A championship run can generate a 20% bump, and that’s cash in the register, admissions-wise. Those applicants may never even choose to enter the stadium during their four years, but the TV coverage and buzz prods students and families at just the right time.

    Those are both practical, real reasons for schools to put themselves through contortions to justify some of the outlays and awkward situations around their football programs. Basketball, women’s & men’s, has a similar if lesser impact, possibly because their big visibility is around the same time deadlines to apply happen, so you’re batting clean-up after football’s role in admissions enhancement.

    But the bigger reason? Alumni & donors care, deeply, and show it in their giving. Them as gots, gets. Have a good year on the football field? You just ensured your capital campaign* is going to have a good year, too. It may not have anything in the case statement about the stadium or practice facilities, but you win the league, you’ll see more contributions for chairs and buildings and programs. Have a bad year? The darndest alums will be calling on Monday. Wanting to know “what are we going to do about this?” Get fifteen Fulbrights and a few NSF major grants, you’ll hear nothing from alums; have a winning season against your nemesis up the road in a rivalry no one has heard of outside of your respective alumni communities, and you’ll get congrats and checks to match.

    That’s why college football is going to be hard to rein in, if by hard you mean unlikely to impossible.

    *There is always a capital campaign going on, somewhere between quiet phase to concluding announcement of success to the launch of the next one, cars in a train extending to the horizon.

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  24. Icarus said on September 12, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    speaking of NIL:

    “The NIL craze had given college football players a chance to finally make some money. It has also created opportunities for others to potentially prey upon them.

    Bears defensive tackle Gervon Dexter claims he was victimized by unscrupulous NIL practices. He recently filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate an NIL arrangement that allegedly violates applicable Florida law.

    Dexter claims that he agreed to pay Big League Advance Fund 15 percent of all pre-tax NFL earnings for the next 25 years in exchange for a one-time payment of $436,485 in 2022. As a second-round pick, Dexter signed a four-year, $6.72 million contract with the Bears. Fifteen percent of that amount is $1.008 million.”

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  25. Jeff Borden said on September 12, 2023 at 12:36 pm

    It’s no secret winning athletic programs generate a lot of alumni donations.

    When Loyola University Chicago had its magic carpet ride to the Final Four in 2018, it opened the floodgates, baby. But then, Loyola is a small Division 1 school in a smallish conference and its athletes have among the highest GPAs in college sports with a near 100% graduation rate. It’s a far cry from the likes of MSU or other major collegiate programs.

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  26. FDChief said on September 12, 2023 at 1:27 pm

    While I have no real animus about the NFL minors (my undergrad joint is a D3 school and my grad school made the mistake of moving from D2 to D1A where they’re now a reliable win-dispenser for the genuine D1A schools…) I am pretty irked about the current atrocity going on in the former PAC-12 for what it says about the football programs vs every other sport.

    Bottom line; programs like Oregon are going to move to the Big 10 and other mid-continent conferences. There’s even talk of the SEC!

    It’s one thing to charter a flight to Macon so the Duck can face off with UGA-18 (or whatever dawg we’re up to…) for 60 minutes.

    But that means that everyone – fencers, wrestlers, volleyballers – has to drag ass all the way across the continent. And they’re not minor-league pros with a massive support system whose class performance is…somewhat optional if needs must. They’re, many of them, regular students who just want to play their sport.

    But the university could give a shit. The football is gonna drive everything.

    It’s enough to make you wonder what the point of having a college attached to a pro football development league is…

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  27. Sherri said on September 12, 2023 at 1:40 pm

    The sacrifice of the Pac-12 on the altar of football is pretty awful, especially for those of us who like college sports other than football. Even for football, it’s not a sustainable system. The money being paid out in TV contracts is money from linear TV, but the money coming in from linear TV is shrinking all the time as cable-cutting continues. Disney has been getting more and more unhappy with its ownership of former cash cow ESPN, and job cuts abound there, yet ESPN is the major source of money for college football (along with Fox). It’s hard for me to see how this holds up, even if lots of people watch. PPV for college football?

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  28. Jeff Gill said on September 12, 2023 at 1:46 pm

    That’s my main question: how does this work moving forward? PPV for college football doesn’t seem sustainable. Of course, we seem to be learning through the WGA strike that the whole current streaming model isn’t too sustainable. The ad dollars the colleges are pursuing by way of TV contracts look like they could dry up rather quickly on the input end, and how else do the schools tap into that?

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  29. Sherri said on September 12, 2023 at 1:48 pm

    Alabama has played the game Jeff Gill describes perfectly; they’ve leveraged their football team giving them national exposure to lure out of state students to pay out of state tuition to make up for lack of money from the state legislature. The University of Alabama now has more than half its students from out of state. It ain’t the academics drawing them there. Check out the Bama Rush phenomenon.

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  30. David C said on September 12, 2023 at 3:30 pm

    The regional sports networks for pro baseball, basketball, and hockey are going to hell in a handbag. They’re a canary in a coalmine for college sports. It’s probably going to fall apart quicker than anyone imagines.

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  31. Sherri said on September 12, 2023 at 6:17 pm

    I think everyone is aware the whole thing is going to collapse, collapse spectacularly, and more quickly than anyone realizes. The question is, what do you do with that realization? If you’re ESPN, you still need content, and nothing brings eyeballs to live TV like college football. You can’t just opt out, or someone else will take the chance, and then your revenue tanks; ad revenues drop precipitously, and negotiating those carriage deals with cable companies become even harder (Disney and Spectrum just spent a week playing chicken over this, with ESPN not available during the second weekend of college football and the USOpen, with a deal being reached in time for Monday Night Football.)

    The Pac-12 is the perfect example of the dilemma for college presidents. The Big Ten (read Fox) wanted a West Coast presence, so lured away USC and UCLA. TV market size still matters for linear TV, and time zones matter for live TV. Being able to spread content out across the entire day on Saturday and having the LA market was appealing to Fox. Once that happened, the Pac-12 was doomed; schools were going to look for greener pastures rather than the second-tier TV deal that was going to be possible without the LA market. So, Oregon and Washington, the next two most desirable football powers, took a discount to go to the Big Ten. Colorado, eventually followed by Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State, hopped to the Big 12. Stanford and Cal, with undesirable football programs, scrambled to find a place with the ACC at a discount, hoping, in the case of Stanford, to use alumni money to sustain things (I have no idea what Cal is going to do. Maybe Stanford is going to cover their travel expenses so that Stanford at least has a conference partner within 2300 miles.) Oregon State and Washington State are left to sue the other schools to keep them from taking all the assets with them when they go.

    Everyone knows the music isn’t going to last, but you can’t sit out the game, either.

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  32. Sherri said on September 12, 2023 at 6:33 pm

    I don’t think college football is headed to PPV, but it could be headed to a subscription model. If it does, then that will shake up conferences again, and you’ll see schools kicked out. The Big Ten brought in Rutgers because it brought the NYC cable market, but Rutgers football is bad, and in a subscription world, what would matter is how willing your alumni base is to kick in for that Big Ten subscription. Rutgers would be dead weight.

    I think that in a streaming, subscription world, it’s much more likely that college football forms a super league and leaves behind the old conference model. Georgia and Oklahoma started us on this path back in the early 80s when they successfully sued to break the NCAA’s control over TV rights for college football.

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