Done Deal: CU Buffs to Hire Mel Tucker As Head Coach
Mel Tucker will be officially announced later today as the new head football coach at Colorado.
Sources have informed BuffZone.com that CU and Tucker finalized a deal late Tuesday night.
Athletic director Rick George has proposed that CU’s Board of Regents approve a five-year deal for Tucker worth $14.75 million of which the first-year salary would be $2.4 million and then increase by $275,000 annually, not including additional pay if any of several incentives in the contract are met. The Regents must approve Tucker’s contract, which campus leaders hope to present for their consideration at their Dec. 12 special meeting in Denver.
Tucker, who will become the 26th full-time head coach in CU football history, replaces Mike MacIntyre, who was fired Nov. 18 with one game left in his sixth season with the Buffaloes.
“Colorado has always been a place that I thought should be relevant in the national championship conversation year-in and year-out, because of its tradition and a seemingly endless list of what the school has to offer,” Tucker said. “What we have to offer are some of the best facilities in the country, strong academics, and an amazing environment as a whole. Colorado should be a ‘no excuse’ program. There’s absolutely no reason we can’t achieve success at an extremely high level.”
CU will hold an introductory press conference with the new head football coach, chancellor Phil DiStefano and George on Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Arrow Touchdown Club.
For the past three seasons, Tucker, 46, has been the defensive coordinator at Georgia. Throughout his coaching career, he has worked at the highest levels of college football, as well as in the National Football League, but this will be his first full-time head coaching job.
Tucker’s only experience as a head coach came in 2011, when he led the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars for five games as interim coach. He has reportedly interviewed for college head coaching jobs during the past few offseasons, including at Tennessee a year ago.
The Cleveland native brings a winning pedigree to Boulder.
As a player at Wisconsin, Tucker was part of a Rose Bowl victory in 1993. As a coach, he has been a part of two national championship teams, at Ohio State in 2002 and Alabama in 2015.
Last year at Georgia, Tucker’s defense ranked sixth nationally in points and yards allowed, as he helped the Bulldogs to the SEC championship and a trip to the national championship game. The Bulldogs (13-2) lost to Alabama, 26-23 in overtime, of the title game.
This year, Georgia ranks 15th nationally in points allowed and 13th in yards allowed, as he has helped the Bulldogs (11-2) narrowly miss another spot in the College Football Playoff. Georgia finished No. 5 in the CFP rankings, one spot out of the national semifinals, after a 35-28 loss to No. 1 Alabama in the SEC championship last Saturday.
“If you go back last month when I talked about what I wanted in our next head coach, you’ll find that Mel checks all those boxes,” George said. “He has great experience and a terrific pedigree; I like the way he coaches football, his toughness and accountability. Those are the things we were looking for.”
MacIntyre led CU to the Pac-12 South division title in 2016, but the Buffs have posted back-to-back 5-7 seasons since.
This season, the Buffs started 5-0 and reached No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25, but lost their last seven games and placed last in the South for the fifth time in MacIntyre’s six seasons.
This season, CU joined Kansas’ 2009 squad as the only Power 5 teams since 1997 to start 5-0 and finish 5-7. The seven-game losing streak to close the season kept the Buffs out of a bowl game for the 10th time in the last 11 years.
CU’s recent struggles are the opposite of what Tucker has experienced. In his 10th season as a full-time college coach, Tucker has never been on a losing team and has five times been on teams that won 11 or more games. His teams have posted a combined 101-29 record (77.7 win percentage).
Tucker spent 10 seasons in the NFL, from 2005-14, spending four years with the Cleveland Browns, four with the Jaguars and two with the Chicago Bears.
Mel Tucker bio
Age: 46 (turns 47 on Jan. 4)
Current position: Defensive coordinator, Georgia Bulldogs
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
College: Wisconsin, 1995
Family: Wife, Jo-Ellyn, and sons Joseph and Christian
1997-98: Michigan State (grad assistant)
1999: Miami-Ohio (DBs)
2000: LSU (DBs)
2001-03: Ohio State (DBs)
2004: Ohio State (co-defensive coordinator/DBs)
2005-07: Cleveland Browns (DBs)
2008: Cleveland Browns (defensive coordinator)
2009-12: Jacksonville Jaguars (defensive coordinator)
2013-14: Chicago Bears (defensive coordinator)
2015: Alabama (DBs)
2016-present: Georgia (defensive coordinator/DBs)
Notable: Went 2-3 as the interim head coach of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars at the end of the 2011 season. … Tucker worked for current Alabama head coach Nick Saban three different times: 1997-98 at Michigan State, 2000 at LSU and 2015 at Alabama. … He helped Ohio State to the BCS national championship in 2002 and Alabama to the national title in 2015. … As a player, he was a four-year letterman as a defensive back at Wisconsin; he helped the Badgers win the Rose Bowl in 1993.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.