When CU athletic director Rick George announced Mel Tucker as the next coach of the Colorado Buffaloes last December, he knew it wouldn’t be long before the former Georgia and Alabama assistant created his own culture in Boulder.
“Colorado always had difference makers and was very dynamic on both sides of the ball. That’s the imprint instilled in my mind when it came to CU,” Tucker said when he was introduced to the media.
One thing that’s become clear a month into the season is that Mel Tucker’s drive is starting to show with his team on the field. After going 3-1 with wins over two ranked teams, his projections are becoming reality. “My plan is to continue to restore that tradition and make sure that Colorado once again becomes an elite national program. There’s not a better place in America to live, to coach and go to school.”
An elite program? Not in the slightest, but still making unprecedented strides for a program with a first-year head coach who’s setting the expectations to compete for a Pac-12 championship. It will be a tough task in 2019 as half of the Buffs remaining opponents are currently ranked in the Top 25.
Colorado defeated No. 24 Arizona State by a score of 34-31 on Saturday night. It was the first time in 17 years the Buffs took down a ranked opponent on the road and the first win in school history against ASU in Tempe. It was hard-fought battle for the banged-up Buffaloes, who needed the “next man up” after losing top receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. and leading pass rusher Mustafa Johnson to injuries in the first half.
Tucker approach isn’t new to football, but he brings a different mentality to CU’s sideline on game day. The players have bought into Tucker’s vision of what CU can be as well. A better strategy toward game management has resulted in a different fourth quarter team throughout the first four games compared to previous seasons.
Numbers don’t lie either— Colorado has outscored their opponents in the second half by a near two-to-one margin, 78-37. A total of 54 points in the fourth quarter alone is more than the total from the entire 2018 season (39 points). To do it as CU has done — leading comebacks and going back-and-forth — has made this feat even more impressive.
Tucker has led this team with class and swagger. Following the overtime loss to Air Force, Tucker kept his team out on the field to congratulate the Falcons and took the hangover burden for the prior week’s upset of No. 25 Nebraska by saying, “This is a very unforgiving game at times.”
On Saturday night, he showed a different side by wearing shorts in the near 100-degree Arizona desert heat. It was an outstanding comfort move most coaches either couldn’t pull off or haven’t considered.
Mel Tucker coaching in shorts is a good start. pic.twitter.com/sFlgkpxajx— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) September 22, 2019
Just listen to Tucker’s words at halftime to 850 KOA’s Bobby Pesavento. If that doesn’t get you fired up and wanting to check if you have eligibility, I don’t know what will. Nothing new considering his halftime comments vs. Nebraska saying, “We’ve taken their best shot. Now, let’s go give them ours”— and the Buffs did.
Colorado takes a bye week before facing Arizona on Oct. 5 at Folsom Field. It figures to be a high-scoring affair for both teams, as the Buffs and Wildcats are both averaging over 35 points per game this season. A start time and television coverage for the game is still to be determined.