I’m going to say a lot of things in this article about Mel Tucker, so please keep reading, but there is no better introduction or sales job than a short 30 second clip. Watch this clip, specifically starting at around the 49 second mark:
IF YOU’RE NOT LOOKING THROUGH A BRICK WALL TO RUN THROUGH, YOU’RE NOT WATCHING THE RIGHT CLIP.
That clip encapsulates why I’m so damn excited for Mel Tucker. This dude is a DAWG. Strip away the high level experience, the excellence in technique and teaching, the long list of hall of fame mentors, strip away everything and watch that clip. That man can motivate. That man can connect. That man can recruit. In college football, nothing else matters more.
Rick George understands that, and Mel Tucker understands that. The hiring of Mel Tucker signals a drastic shift in culture and mindset for Colorado Football, one that will be welcomed by almost every CU fan. There is a formula for success that the Colorado Buffaloes used for multiple decades. You need to emphasize recruiting above all else, you need to motivate, and you need to build a staff. No other candidate checked those boxes like Mel Tucker does.
Let’s go through the current P5 schools that hired or will hire a head coach this offseason:
Texas Tech: Matt Wells, former HC of Utah State
North Carolina: Mack Brown, former ESPN commentator and HC of Texas
Georgia Tech: Undecided (front runner is Ken Wisenhunt, NFL OC)
Kansas State: Undecided (front runner is Seth Littrell, HC of North Texas)
Kasnas: Les Miles, Retired former HC of LSU
Louisville: Scott Satterfield, former HC of App State
Looking through that list, Rick George was Keanu Reeves this offseason dodging bullets. The Buffs had arguably the top opening this offseason, and they did not fall into any traps this year. They did not hire the hot G5 HC (Matt Wells), the retirees (Mack Brown or Les Miles), or the high-level alumnus. George went for an experienced candidate, who has high level experience, recruiting chops, and is relatively young. Ryan Day fit that mold (and was almost lured away from Ohio State), Jimmy Lake fits that mold (who somehow stayed in Washington), but I would argue that Mel Tucker has more experience than both. You can’t go wrong with any of those three, and you certainly can go right with Tucker.
There are two big question marks for Tucker. The first is geographic fit. The furthest west he’s been in his coaching career is Michigan State (or Miami of Ohio? The Midwest is a mystery to me), and all of his most recent college experience is in the Deep South. This is not as big of a deal as some people will make it out to be. Someone with Tucker’s pedigree and personality can recruit anywhere, and if he hires the right staff with connections (this is very important), the inroads will be there in California and Texas. The second big knock is that he has no head coaching experience other than five games as an interim head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Once again, this is mitigated by his pedigree, which I will now go into exhaustive detail about.
Tucker has been hired by Nick Saban three times, the last one as Alabama’s DC for a national championship team. He was hired Jim Tressel at Ohio State in 2002, another national championship team. He was the best defensive coach for the Cleveland Browns under Romeo Crennel, a team with a surprising good defense. He was the defensive coordinator and associate head coach for the Jaguars for four years, with a dominant defense for the first three. Then, he had a disastrous tenure as the Chicago Bears’ DC under Marc Trestman for two years, where a combination of poor talent and coaching led to historically bad results. It’s from this experience that he turned back to the college ranks, and thank God he did. From Alabama, Kirby Smart hired him to run his defense, and he got amazing production out of the defense.
He has learned how to run a program from quite literally the best coaches of all time. Are there any better examples than Nick Saban? Jim Tressel? Kirby Smart is well on his way. All of this to say, Mel Tucker has shown every indication that he will be successful. He rose quickly, performed well almost everywhere he’s been, and recruits his ass off. After all of this, if I still haven’t convinced you of his success, go watch that video again. The pride and tradition of the Colorado Buffaloes will not be entrusted to the timid or weak. Mel Tucker will make sure of that.