Michigan State has officially begun the process to fire Mel Tucker for cause, a move the school formally announced on Monday.

Athletic director Alan Haller made it clear that MSU is confident its case will hold up in court, leveraging the behavior Tucker admitted to in a Title IX investigation as a material breach of his contract. Specifically, State believes Tucker violated the so-called "moral turpitude" clause of his contract when he allegedly sexually harassed rape survivor and victim advocate Brenda Tracy, whom he had contracted with for a speaking engagement with the Spartan football program.

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The timing indicates MSU believes its decision is ironclad against litigation from Tucker. The school is officially firing Tucker ahead of the Oct. 5-6 hearing that will represent the end of the sexual harassment investigation into him, determining whether Tucker violated university policy against sexual harassment and exploitation. MSU isn't waiting for that process to wrap before officially firing Tucker, which tells you its legal counsel believes the school has more than enough to terminate the coach while also getting out from paying him the nearly $80 million left on his contract.

RELATED: Mel Tucker Did Michigan State An Enormous Favor

Tucker, of course, will pursue legal recourse to recoup at least a portion of that balance. A potential $80 million payday will attract a bevy of good lawyers. Tucker and his representation have already started positioning for a future lawsuit, alleging MSU is treating him unfairly and carrying this out against him with ulterior motives.

Regardless, the Tucker era is over at MSU. And that means one of the nation's Top 20 jobs is available. Michigan State is 12th in athletics revenue, 20th in college football attendance, the 17th most-watched college football program, and overall the No. 20 program on the Wall Street Journal's ranking of college football's most valuable programs. Despite the poor results on the field lately and the bad publicity, the Michigan State job is one of the best 15 or 20 in the entire sport by virtually every measure.

RELATED: No, Harlon Barnett Isn't Auditioning For The Permanent Job At MSU

So who will be leading Spartan football next? Before we try to answer that, we must first identify the kind of coach we're looking for.

Critical Qualifications For Michigan State's Next Head Football Coach

Just like any normal job in the real world, the permanent head football coach gig at MSU comes with requirements. Here are a few that ought to be non-negotiable.

With those criteria set, let's take a look at college football coaches who fit the bill.

10 Realistic Candidates Michigan State Could Target For Next Head Coach

This list isn't like the dozens of others you've seen cobbled together with an amalgamation of next-to-impossible hires, like Nick Saban, and completely unqualified guys, such as Division 2 candidates and coaches who have been at a Group of Five job for five-plus years. This group consists of legitimate names who meet most if not all of the qualifications and needs of MSU's football program and who would probably be interested if the Spartans made an overture.

We've also rated each candidate in terms of the likelihood that they'll be seriously by Michigan State.