MSU Spartans
Rotating image

Mike Tressel
Mike Tressel

St. Paul, Minn.

Linebackers/Special Teams

Seventh Year


Mark Dantonio Weekly Press Conference Coverage

No. 4 Spartans will face No. 5 Stanford in the 2014 Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2014 in Pasadena, Calif.


Ron Burton Named Defensive Line Coach

Burton, who has 21 years of coaching experience, has spent the last 10 seasons at Air Force.


Grinz on Green Blog: Spartans Prepare For NU's Two-Quarterback System

The Spartan defense looks forward to the challenge of containing Northwestern's running game, which ranks third in the Big Ten at nearly 239 yards per game.


No. 20 Spartans Welcome No. 14 Ohio State for Big Ten Opener

MSU and Ohio State set to meet Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.


Grinz on Green Blog: Assessing MSU's First Preseason Scrimmage

Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio talks about his team's performance from Sunday.

Mike Tressel recently completed his seventh season as the linebackers and special teams coach at Michigan State.

The impressive play of the Spartan linebackers under Tressel is one of the main reasons why Michigan State has led the Big Ten in rushing defense and total defense the past three seasons. In addition, the Spartans are one of just two NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Schools, along with Alabama, to rank in the Top 10 nationally in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense the last three years.

Senior captain Max Bullough, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, was the quarterback of the league's top-ranked defense in 2013. A third-team All-America honoree by The Associated Press, Bullough ranked among the team leaders in tackles (76) and tackles for loss (9.5). He closed his career with 40 starts at middle linebacker and ranks 11th in school history in tackles for loss (30.5) and 18th in tackles (299).

Fellow three-year starter Denicos Allen picked up second-team All-America accolades from Allen led the team with a career-high 98 tackles as a senior and also led the team with 16.5 tackles for loss, good for seventh most in an MSU single-season. He finished his career ranked third in the school record book with 46 career tackles for loss. Allen capped his illustrious career with seven tackles, including 1.5 for losses, in the 100th Rose Bowl Game against No. 5 Stanford, and was named to the All-Bowl Team.

Junior Taiwan Jones, the starter at Star (weakside) linebacker, ranked fourth on the team with a career-high 67 tackles, including seven for loss.

Tressel also oversees a successful special teams unit that has been one of the best in the Big Ten since his arrival. Junior punter Mike Sadler, who was selected a first-team All-American by and, has proven to be a valuable weapon throughout his career. In 2013, he led the nation with 25 punts downed inside the 10-yard line and ranked tied for second with 33 placed inside the 20. True freshman placekicker Michael Geiger stepped into the starting role in Week 4 and rose to the challenge. Geiger made 13 consecutive field goals to close the season and set the MSU single-season field-goal percentage record (.938; 15 of 16). He was an honorable mention All-America pick by and a first-team Freshman All-America selection by the Football Writers Association of America.

Bullough led the Spartans in tackles for the second year in a row in 2012 with a career-high 111 stops, which ranked ninth in the conference. Bullough was also second on team and tied for ninth in the Big Ten with 12.5 tackles for loss (45 yards). Allen picked up honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades after ranking second on the team in sacks (3) and third in tackles (79) and tackles for loss (10).

Dan Conroy, a first-team All-Big Ten honoree in 2010, set a MSU single-season record with 23 field goals in 2012, including the game-winner with just 1:01 remaining against TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. He finished his career ranked among MSU's all-time leaders in scoring (fourth with 283 points), field goals (fourth with 55) and PATs (sixth with 118). In addition, Conroy closed out career with a school-record 80 straight PATs, which is the 10th-longest streak in Big Ten history, including all 25 in 2012.

Sadler earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches after leading the Big Ten and ranking 21st in the FBS with his 43.3-yard punting average. Sadler, who also led the Big Ten with 19 punts of 50-plus yards, finished with 3,422 punting yards, good for second most in a MSU single-season. He ranked second in the conference with 31 punts downed inside the 20.

The past seven years, MSU has had two first-team All-Big Ten placekickers (Conroy and Brett Swenson), two first-team All-Big Ten punters (Sadler and Aaron Bates), and has featured conference leaders in both kick returns (Devin Thomas) and punt returns (Keshawn Martin).

In 2011, Michigan State led the Big Ten in rushing defense (100.5 yards per game) and total defense (277.4 ypg.) en route to winning the Big Ten Legends Division title. For the first time since 1990, all three of MSU's starting linebackers garnered All-Big Ten honors. Allen, who ranked second in the Big Ten in sacks with 11 and fourth in tackles for loss with 18.5, was named second-team all-conference by the media. Bullough picked up second-team accolades from the coaches after leading the Spartans with 89 tackles and junior Chris Norman was named honorable mention after recording career highs in tackles (76) and tackles for loss (6.5).

On the return teams, Martin ranked second in the Big Ten and 18th in the FBS in punt returns (11.0 avg.), while Nick Hill's 999 kick return yards were second most in an MSU single-season. In addition, Sadler ranked among the nation's leaders in punts inside the 10 (ninth with 10) and punts inside the 20 (tied for 12th with 25) and was named a Freshman All-American by Phil Steele (third team) and (honorable mention).

Tressel mentored Greg Jones and Eric Gordon from 2007-10, two of the top linebackers in the nation who combined for 796 tackles in their careers.

A back-to-back first-team consensus All-American, Jones led the Spartans in tackles (106), forced fumbles (3) and quarterback hurries (6) and ranked tied for first in tackles for loss (10 for 20 yards) in 2010. He became just the seventh player in program history to receive first-team All-Big Ten honors three times.

A model of consistency, Jones led the team in tackles in 31 of his last 39 games and became only the second player in MSU history to lead the Spartans in tackles for four-straight seasons (linebacker Dan Bass, 1976-79). The Cincinnati, Ohio, native started 46 of 52 career games and ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in tackles for loss (second with 44.5), tackles (third with 457) and sacks (sixth with 16.5). Jones became the first Spartan to win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year accolades after collecting 154 tackles in 2009, the most in the conference and third nationally. He was rated the No. 1 linebacker in the nation by and earned the Linebacker Trophy (Linebacker of the Year) by the College Football Performance Awards.

Jones was selected in the sixth round (No. 185 overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and was a member of the Super Bowl Champion team that defeated New England in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. Jones finished his second season in the NFL in 2012 with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Gordon started more games (49) than any player in Spartan history, including 40 consecutive starting assignments. He finished his career ranked among MSU's all-time leaders in tackles for loss (10th with 29), tackles (12th with 331) and sacks (21st with 9.5). A second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media as a senior, Gordon was second on the team and 13th in the Big Ten with 92 tackles (7.1 avg.) in 2010, which tied his career high.

In 2010, Bates ranked first in the Big Ten and 13th in the nation with his 45.0-yard punting average to earn first-team All-Big Ten accolades and second-team All-America honors by In addition, Martin ranked first in the conference and 11th nationally in punt returns (14.2 avg.), and Conroy was a first-team All-Big Ten selection after going 14-for-15 in field goals during his first year as the starting placekicker.

Not only did the unit rank among the national leaders statistically in 2010, but it also delivered in the clutch. Four of the biggest plays during Michigan State's Big Ten Championship season arrived on special teams, including: Bates' 29-yard completion to Charlie Gantt on a fake field goal in overtime that won the game against Notre Dame; Martin's 72-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave MSU the lead for good in the win over Wisconsin; Bates' 21-yard pass to Bennie Fowler on a fake punt in the fourth quarter that sparked MSU's comeback at Northwestern; and Denicos Allen's blocked punt late in the fourth quarter against Purdue that led to the game-winning touchdown.

MSU's Big Ten Championship season in 2010 was not the first year Tressel's special teams unit achieved success. First-team All-Big Ten placekicker Brett Swenson became MSU's all-time leader in field goals (71), points scored (377) and extra points (164) during the 2009 season. Swenson, who was named a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, finished his career tied for third in Big Ten history with his 71 field goals. Swenson tied a then-school record in 2008 with 22 field goals en route to being named second-team All-Big Ten.

Martin anchored the kick return team in 2009, which ranked eighth nationally, averaging 25.9 yards per return. Martin was the 11th-ranked return man in the nation (28.9-yard avg.). He ran back the opening kickoff of the second half at Minnesota 93 yards for a touchdown, MSU's first kick return for a TD since 2005, and accumulated 176 kick return yards in the game, the third-highest single-game figure in MSU history. Martin also recorded an 85-yard return at Purdue in compiling 166 kick return yards against the Boilermakers for the seventh-best total in school history.

In 2007, Devin Thomas established a Big Ten record with 1,135 kick return yards. Tressel arrived at Michigan State following the 2006 regular season, as he was one of eight assistants to follow Coach Dantonio to MSU from Cincinnati.

Tressel played a key role in Cincinnati's success over his three seasons, as the Bearcats earned two bowl invitations. During the 2006 regular season, UC ranked among the national leaders in rushing defense (No. 27 at 107.5 yards per game), total defense (No. 31 at 304.3 ypg.) and scoring defense (No. 34 at 19.3 points per game). In addition, the Bearcats held seven of its 12 regular-season opponents to less than 100 yards rushing. In 2006, Tressel coached linebacker Kevin McCullough, who received first-team All-BIG EAST honors after leading the team in tackles (72) and tackles for losses (14.5 for 36 yards).

In 2005, he helped develop Corey Smith into a third-team Freshman All-American and second-team All-BIG EAST selection. In his first season at Cincinnati, Tressel's starting linebackers ranked first, third and fifth on the team in tackles, with both Jamar Enzor (second team) and Tyjuan Hagler (third team) garnering All-Conference USA honors. Hagler was taken by the Indianapolis Colts in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Prior to joining Dantonio's staff at Cincinnati, Tressel spent two seasons as a graduate assistant coach at Ohio State (2002-03), where he contributed to the Buckeyes' National Championship team in 2002.

Tressel previously coached at Wartburg (Iowa) College for four seasons (1998-01), helping the school to a combined record of 36-4 including one conference title. At Wartburg, he served as offensive line coach for three years before assuming the role of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the 2001 season.

A four-year starter in the secondary at Cornell (Iowa) College, Tressel became a two-time Academic All-American. Following graduation in 1996, he launched his coaching career at South Dakota as a graduate assistant for two seasons (1996-97), working on the offensive side of the football.

He earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Cornell (Iowa) College in 1996 and received a master's degree in sports administration from South Dakota in 1998.

Tressel comes from a bloodline of successful coaches, as his uncle Jim Tressel won four NCAA I-AA championships at Youngstown State before leading Ohio State to the 2002 National Championship. His grandfather, Lee Tressel, ranked as one of the winningest coaches in Division III history and won a National Championship at Baldwin-Wallace College. His father Richard, who spent 23 seasons as head coach at Hamline, coached 11 seasons at Ohio State.

He and his wife Megan have two children: Logan and Quincy.


YEARS AT MICHIGAN STATE: Seventh. Joined staff on Dec. 1, 2006, from Cincinnati.

PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: College - Graduate assistant coach at South Dakota (1996-97); offensive line coach (1998-2000) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2001) at Wartburg (Iowa) College; graduate assistant linebackers coach at Ohio State (2002-03); linebackers and special teams coach at Cincinnati (2004-06).

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in mathematics from Cornell (Iowa) College in 1996; master's degree in sports administration at South Dakota in 1998.

PLAYING EXPERIENCE: College - Four-year starter in the secondary at Cornell (Iowa) College (1992-95).

POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Coach - 1999 NCAA Division III Playoffs, 2003 Fiesta Bowl, 2004 Fiesta Bowl, 2004 Fort Worth Bowl, 2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 2014 Rose Bowl.


at the official
Online Store