Tucker, who officially resigned as the Buffaloes' head coach after just one season on Wednesday, was one of several candidates to seemingly turn down Michigan State's initial overtures. He became the focus of the school's search late Sunday and throughout Monday, sources said.
"We are disappointed to see Coach Tucker leave," Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a statement Wednesday. "We are excited about the upward trajectory of our football program and we'll get to work immediately hiring the next head coach to build on our momentum and lead our young men. We're confident this program is on the verge of competing at the highest level and has the resources and support in place to do so for a long time."
On Saturday, Tucker tweeted that he remained committed to Colorado after speaking with Michigan State about its coaching vacancy.
A source said Tucker, who attended an event with Colorado donors Monday in Denver, was hesitant to leave Colorado after only one season, but Michigan State offered more resources, beyond just annual salary.
An official announcement on the MSU hiring could come later Wednesday. The Michigan State board of trustees has scheduled a special meeting for 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. Among the issues to discuss is "personnel action."
The Athletic first reported MSU's expected hire of Tucker.
Tucker, 48, will replace Mark Dantonio, who announced his retirement last week after 13 seasons at Michigan State. Dantonio, 63, went 114-57 with the Spartans, winning or sharing three Big Ten championships and reaching the College Football Playoff in 2015. He left as Michigan State's all-time winningest coach but also is facing a lawsuit from former recruiting director Curtis Blackwell, who alleges that Dantonio committed multiple NCAA violations.
Michigan State interviewed Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Sunday, but Fickell decided early Monday to remain with the Bearcats. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, a longtime Michigan State assistant under Dantonio, also opted to remain in his job. San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, another former MSU assistant, and Iowa State coach Matt Campbell also declined to pursue the Spartans job.
Tucker, a Cleveland native who played defensive back at Wisconsin, began his coaching career at Michigan State as a graduate assistant for Nick Saban in 1997. He was a defensive coordinator for three NFL teams and served as the Jacksonville Jaguars' interim head coach in 2011, going 2-3. Tucker worked alongside Dantonio at Ohio State from 2001 to 2003 and held coordinator jobs at Ohio State and Georgia, before landing his first head-coaching opportunity at Colorado.
He went 5-7 last season with the Buffaloes and last week finalized the nation's No. 34 recruiting class, according to ESPN.
Colorado said a search for a new coach is already underway.