New coach Tucker: There is ‘no ex­cuse’ for Colorado not suc­ceed­ing

AP’s top player is one of Heis­man fi­nal­ists

Albuquerque Journal - - FOOTBALL -

BOUL­DER, Colo. — Mel Tucker doesn’t shy away from set­ting the ex­pec­ta­tions high.

Be­cause lately that’s the only level he’s known.

Colorado hired the Ge­or­gia de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor as its foot­ball coach Wed­nes­day af­ter he helped re­build the Bull­dogs into a na­tional con­tender. He wants to bring that same sort of swag­ger to Boul­der.

Not down the road, either, but pronto.

“Colorado should be a ‘no ex­cuse’ pro­gram,” Tucker said in a state­ment. “There’s ab­so­lutely no rea­son we can’t achieve success at an ex­tremely high level.”

Tucker re­ceives a five-year, $14.75 mil­lion con­tract un­der a deal that’s pend­ing ap­proval from the board of re­gents. He starts im­me­di­ately and won’t coach Ge­or­gia in the Sugar Bowl against Texas on New Year’s Day.

The 46-year-old Tucker re­places Mike MacIn­tyre, who was fired with a game re­main­ing in the sea­son and the team mired in a six-game skid. The Buffaloes lost their fi­nal game un­der in­terim coach Kurt Roper to miss a bowl berth for a sec­ond straight sea­son.

Af­ter sev­eral stints as an NFL de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Tucker be­came an as­sis­tant head coach for Nick Sa­ban at Alabama in 2015. He spent a sea­son with the Crim­son Tide — cap­tur­ing a na­tional ti­tle — be­fore fol­low­ing coach Kirby Smart to Ge­or­gia to build a feisty de­fense. The Bull­dogs lost to Alabama last week­end in the SEC cham­pi­onship con­test and in over­time last sea­son in the cham­pi­onship game.

Tucker has never been a head coach on the col­le­giate level, but has learned un­der some big names. He helped Ohio State and Jim Tres­sel to a na­tional ti­tle as a de­fen­sive backs coach in 2002 and was brought on board by Sa­ban on three dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions.

“I’ve known Mel for well over 20 years and he is one of the bright­est coaches in our pro­fes­sion,” Sa­ban said. “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.” Tres­sel couldn’t agree more. “The Buf­falo foot­ball fam­ily will thrive un­der Mel’s lead­er­ship,” he said. “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.”

This won’t be the first time that Colorado has hired some­one with­out any pre­vi­ous col­le­giate head coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Tucker joins a list that in­cludes such names as Dal Ward (1948), Sonny Gran­delius (1959), Ed­die Crow­der (1963), Bill Mc­Cart­ney (1982), Rick Neuheisel (1995) and Jon Em­bree (2011).

PLAYER OF THE YEAR:

Quar­ter­backs Kyler Mur­ray of Ok­la­homa, Tua Tago­v­ailoa of Alabama and Dwayne Hask­ins Jr. of Ohio State are the fi­nal­ists for The As­so­ci­ated Press col­lege foot­ball Player of the Year to be an­nounced to­day. They are the same three fi­nal­ists for the Heis­man Tro­phy, which will be pre­sented Satur­day.

MIS­SOURI: Coach Barry Odom’s con­tract has been ex­tended and he’s get­ting a $600,000 raise to more than $3 mil­lion a year.

NFL BOUND: Michi­gan State run­ning back LJ Scott says he will en­ter the draft af­ter this sea­son but will play for the Spar­tans in the Red­box Bowl against Ore­gon on Dec. 31.

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