Take one look at new head football coach Mel Tucker’s resume and his experience at big name, successful, programs immediately sticks out. Between working under Nick Saban three separate times, to most recently coaching a Georgia defense that was a quarter away from beating an undefeated Alabama squad, he’s cut his teeth coaching tough football teams.
After working under some of the best in the business, he’s trying to bring that hard nosed identity to his first head coaching gig at Colorado. In front of a packed audience for his introductory press conference, Tucker wasn’t shy in talking about how he wants his team to play.
“Our team will be physical. The name of the game is H.I.T. My dad has told me that since I was three years old.”
Unlike in years past where the team lacked both mental and physical toughness at times, he’s trying to establish a tough attitude on a number of different fronts from the get-go.
“We’re going to live tough, we’re going to eat tough, we’re going to practice tough. It’s going to be who we are. It’s going to be part of the culture.”
Through his career, Tucker has admired the CU football program from afar. From Darian Hagan to Kordell Stewart to most recently Laviska Shenault Jr., he’s been impressed with the talent level of the players in the program for years. Although they’ve endured a recent rough patch, missing bowl eligibility in ten out of the last 11 seasons, he feels changing the culture and making the team stronger from the inside out can bring back that success.
Even though they may not have a winning reputation, and although fans and media may need to see the on-field result before truly believing things have truly turned around, the new sheriff in town has sky high expectations given the strong commitment and investment the university has made to building a strong program.
“There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to compete at a championship level. It has been done before, [Boulder] is a great place, great university, great tradition, great facilities, The time is now.”
The Buffs were killed this past season with mental mistakes and turnovers, costly penalties, and missed opportunities/assignments. If those were eliminated, the season could’ve ended much differently.
By the same token, college football is a business where fans hate to hear excuses in the same way a child throws a temper tantrum when they don’t receive the Christmas gift they wanted. As the saying goes “you are what your record says,” and former coach Mike MacIntyre’s inability to accept the results and adjust in areas where the team made mistakes, paired with his finger pointing tendencies ultimately contributed to his dismissal.
For those who became fed up with the former coach’s excuses, Tucker’s words of universal accountability, and attention to detail, which is typically what helps teams swing the two-to-four plays that decide a game in their favor, were a stark contrast to what was heard from MacIntyre less than a month ago.
“This is a no excuse program as of right now. We will be technically and fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball and special teams.”
As for who Tucker feels completely responsible for the team’s on-field performance, he holds himself accountable for ensuring they’re ready to play and be successful on the football field.
“There is no one on this planet that can put more pressure on me than I put on myself.”
While Tucker is yet to coach a game as a head coach, and it remains to be seen whether he is the right person to turn the program around, he certainly has the right philosophy and vision for success.
Even though athletic director Rick George inevitably took a chance hiring someone with no permanent head coaching experience, he didn’t mince words when expressing his confidence in the decision and how it’ll play out down the road.
“I said to [the media] two and a half weeks ago that this was the best job in America and I still believe that today,” George said. “What is most important is that I believe we hired the best coach in America.”