Jump into your closest time machine and go back a month in time to Mike MacIntyre’s press conference following the team’s embarrassing senior day loss and you’ll hear a lot of excuses, words of mediocrity, and how he could’ve left the program for “three good places,” following the team’s 2016 run.
Instead of talking about what went wrong in the defeat (CU’s sixth in a row at the time), he talked about what a great job he’s done with the football team in his eyes - getting them a few more wins a season to where they’re competing for a bid to a meaningless bowl game, and how the season could’ve been completely different if a few plays went their way.
Now fast forward a month, listen to Mel Tucker’s introductory press conference and you’ll get a much different feel. Rather than talking about mediocrity, he talked about winning championships, instead of talking about how a few plays can derail a season, he stated that CU was a “no excuse program.”
Instead of casually talking like someone who had done the program a favor by making them decent Tucker spoke with a level of energy and enthusiasm in his voice, that’d been absent since the days of Bill McCartney, about the program itself and how he wants them to be elite. The difference between the previous and current regime was night and day.
As a first time head coach who has waited patiently years for this opportunity - and worked under some of the most successful in the business, he also brings a unique sense of drive and hunger to the table. Tucker’s motivation has shone through during his first two weeks on the job as he’s wasted no time getting on the road and hitting the recruiting trail.
In a short span, Tucker has traveled as far as Detroit, MI and to the all-important recruiting grounds of Southern California for various in-home visits. Tucker has had a profound impact on the guys he’s visited, doing an outstanding job selling the program and even getting several of them to commit. Despite the fatigue that comes with the long hours and days of traveling on the road, he’s also visibly happy and excited to be out actively building the program.
The culture changing overhaul has also happened at the administrative level. In contrast to the last coaching change where MacIntyre brought in guys whose resumes’ consisted primarily of Group of Five experience, thus far, Tucker has lured several SEC coaches from UGA to Boulder to fill the coordinator vacancies. It’s clear he’s putting an emphasis on attention to detail, technique, and accountability in the locker room.
From a chemistry standpoint, he’s done more to interact and relate with the players on a personal level talking to them in a more casual tone, and doing everything to build a community in the locker room. Judging by their interaction on twitter and in person, it’s clear how much the players like him and the feeling he’s brought. K.D. Nixon posted on twitter roughly a week after he was hired “CULTURE! #NewWave” to express his excitement about the vibe Tucker has brought.
So is changing a football program a tall order? Absolutely. Is it too early to build a statue of this guy outside the championship center? No doubt. But so far Tucker has said all the right things, and more importantly backed up his words with actions. Being that this program is trying to get out of a decade old rut, and they haven’t played a game under Tucker yet, it’s too early to call this a home run hire. However all indications point toward athletic director Rick George hitting the jackpot this time around.
In the way that moving gives someone struggling in a given location a change of scenario, Tucker has given a different feel to everything CU football related, and that’s exactly how it should be.