Mel Tucker is inching closer to filling out his staff. He has reportedly filled both coordinator positions, hiring Jay Johnson for OC and Tyson Summers for DC. Both were analysts last year at Georgia, working for and with Tucker in 2017. Johnson was fresh off an abrupt end to his stint as Minnesota’s OC after the entire coaching staff was fired, and Summers had to rehab his career after a disastrous stint as Georgia Southern’s head coach. Georgia scooped them up, and from all accounts, they did great work in their time in Athens.
Here’s why this is concerning. Mel Tucker has had a long, noteworthy career working with championship coaches multiple times. He has to have a huge list of coaches that he’s worked with, would like to work with again, and are interesting in jobs at CU. From this long list, Tucker comes back with two coaches who weren’t even assistant coaches last year. They were definitely available, on the cheap, and have huge question marks attached. Johnson is a much more linear hire. He has been a P5 OC before and coached ULL to record numbers for four years.
Summers, however, is a little more puzzling. Tucker is the de-facto DC, with the Buffs running his system. He needed to target a young coach who is a good recruiter and can grow under him. He hired Summers, who is a relatively young coach and has had success as a DC (albeit at UCF) before failing as a HC. There are real question marks about his recruiting and attitude towards players.
But let’s look at the positive. Tucker is coming into Boulder with a clear plan in place to win now and later. He knows that he is an outsider, which is partially why he retained three assistant coaches. It’s also why he may be hiring from a pool that he’s already worked with. He knows that Johnson and Summers have attitudes and processes similar to his, or at least knows what he wants. Having two coordinators who are so familiar with his plans will help present a united front for the Buffs. With such a quick turnaround time, Tucker hired two qualified coaches that he knows he can work with, and work with well. The cohesion at the top of the organizational chart will help CU win games. Plus, these are not bums off the street. These are good coaches, they just aren’t flashy hires.