Colorado hires Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as head coach

Yahoo Sports
Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is going to be the head coach at Colorado. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is going to be the head coach at Colorado. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

Colorado’s replacement for Mike MacIntyre is from the SEC.

The school announced Wednesday that it has hired Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as the team’s next head coach. Tucker has been Georgia’s defensive coordinator for the past three seasons since he arrived in Athens with coach Kirby Smart.

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Tucker has agreed to a five-year deal worth $14.75 million. Once the deal is approved Dec. 12 by the CU Board of Trustees, Tucker’s first-year salary will be $2.4 million and then increase by $275,000 annually, the school said.

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“Colorado has always been a place that I thought should be relevant in the national championship conversation year-in and year-out, because of its tradition and a seemingly endless list of what the school has to offer,” Tucker said. “What we have to offer are some of the best facilities in the country, strong academics, and an amazing environment as a whole. Colorado should be a ‘no excuse’ program. There’s absolutely no reason we can’t achieve success at an extremely high level.”

Added Colorado AD Rick George: “If you go back last month when I talked about what I wanted in our next head coach, you’ll find that Mel checks all those boxes. He has great experience and a terrific pedigree; I like the way he coaches football, his toughness and accountability. Those are the things we were looking for.”

Colorado started the 2018 season with a 5-0 record but lost seven straight to finish 5-7. MacIntyre was fired after the Buffs dropped to 5-6.

Tucker has coached for multiple Power Five and NFL teams

Tucker has both NFL and college experience. He was Ohio State’s defensive coordinator in 2004 after a stint as the team’s defensive backs coach. He moved to the NFL in 2005 and coached the Cleveland Browns’ defensive backs for three seasons before he became the Browns’ defensive coordinator in 2008. He was the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive coordinator from 2009-11 and even served as the team’s interim head coach for five games in 2011. He stayed on staff as the defensive coordinator for 2012 and worked as the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears in 2013 and 2014.

Tucker was fired from the Bears after the 2014 season. He coached Alabama’s defensive backs for a season while Smart was the team’s defensive coordinator and made the move to Athens when Smart was named Georgia’s head coach.

Georgia’s defense was one of the best in the country in 2017 as the Bulldogs made it to the national title game against Alabama. Georgia had to replace a lot of key contributors in 2018 but still allowed only 17 points per game and fewer than five yards per play.

“We didn’t say we were looking for a specific name or sitting head coach,” George said. “He’s a great recruiter, just look at the No. 1 draft picks he’s recruited and signed. That’s important. Mel is someone who will relate to the players and is a well-organized, strong administrator. He played the game, he went to Wisconsin and was an accomplished player who had a shot to go to the NFL.

“Nick Saban hired him three times for a reason; the guy’s really good. People will love him. He’s a family guy and integrity is really important to him.”

Colorado could have the pieces for a formidable offense in 2019 if quarterback Steven Montez returns for his senior season. Wide receiver Laviska Shenault will be back for his junior season and had 86 catches for 1,011 yards along with 11 total touchdowns. Those stats aren’t for a full season either. Shenault played in just nine games.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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