Mel Tucker bio: Get to know new Colorado Buffs football coach

The University of Colorado hired Mel Tucker, one of the most well-respected assistant coaches in college football, to lead the Buffaloes into the post-Mike MacIntyre era. The 46-year-old comes to Boulder with 22 seasons of coaching experience, including 10 in the NFL and five in the Southeastern Conference. Should his five-year contract be approved by the CU Board of Regents on Dec. 12, he’ll earn a salary of $2.4 million next season, with raises of $275,000 each year.

Here’s a quick glance at Tucker’s career:

  • Hired as Colorado’s 26th full-time head coach Dec. 5, 2018.
  • Spent the 2016-18 seasons as Georgia’s defensive coordinator but will not coach the Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl.
  • Was part of the 2015 national championship team at Alabama.
  • Married to JoEllyn, who has a law degree from Rutgers. They have two sons, Joseph (16) and Christian (14).
  • Colorado will be Tucker’s first full-time head coaching job. He led the Jacksonville Jaguars for five games (2-3) as the interim head coach after Jack Del Rio was fired in 2011.
  • Tucker was born and raised in Cleveland and graduated from Cleveland Heights High School.
  • He was part of Barry Alvarez’s first recruiting class at Wisconsin in 1990. He was a four-year letterman for the Badgers as a defensive back and graduated with a degree in agricultural business management in 1995.
  • His first coaching job came under Nick Saban at Michigan State in 1997 as a graduate assistant, being instructed by Mark Dantonio.
  • First full-time coaching job came in 1999 at Miami (Ohio), coaching defensive backs. He was also the defensive backs coach at LSU (2000), Ohio State (2001-04), the Cleveland Browns (2005-2007) and Alabama (2015).
  • Broke into the NFL with the Browns in 2005. In 2008, he became Cleveland’s defensive coordinator and would hold the same position with the Jaguars (2009-12) and Chicago Bears (2013-14).
  • Tucker has been hired by Saban three times (Michigan State, LSU and Alabama).
  • Recruited four future first-round picks while at Ohio State (Ted Ginn Jr., Vernon Gholston, Malcom Jenkins and Anthony Gonzalez).
  • Coached five future first-round draft picks (Chris Gamble, Ohio State; Donte Whitner, Ohio State; Marlon Humphrey, Alabama; Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama; Roquan Smith, Georgia).

What coaches are saying about Mel Tucker …

“When I came to Georgia in December of 2015, one of my top priorities was to bring Mel Tucker in as defensive coordinator. He is an exceptional coach, coordinator and trusted friend. He has a great combination of college experience, time in the NFL and has been a remarkable mentor to our players. Mel has been one of the major influences in the success we have had, and we will certainly miss him.  But I look forward to following his career and the opportunity he has at Colorado.” 
— Kirby Smart, Georgia coach.

“I’ve known Mel for well over 20 years, and he is one of the brightest coaches in our profession.  I think he will do an outstanding job as the head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes. They are getting a guy with a great personality, who knows college football, works hard each and every day, and does it with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and positive energy.” — Nick Saban, Alabama coach.

“Mel Tucker is a special communicator, a family man and a superb football coach. The Buffalo football family will thrive under Mel’s leadership. A man with high expectations for himself and his student-athletes, Colorado football will enjoy a terrific recruiter, football strategist, and an ‘all-in’ member of the community.”
— Jim Tressel, former Ohio State coach.

“Mel was a part of my first recruiting class at Wisconsin and helped us turn the program around. He is an outstanding individual and a really good football person. His background, the people and the programs he has worked for and the success he’s been a part of is very impressive. He’s been successful at both the NFL and college level. He is truly a quality individual, and the people at Colorado are going to love Mel.” — Barry Alvarez, former Wisconsin coach.

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