Mel Tucker has been employed by Nick Saban, who is widely considered the greatest college football coach ever three times. Tucker has over 21 years of college and NFL coaching experience. Most recently he was the defensive coordinator for the Georgia Bulldogs where he worked under Kirby Smart. In Tucker's two years at UGA the Bulldogs went to the National Championship game last year and were within minutes of going to the college football playoff for the second consecutive year.
His resume, however, isn't the most impressive part about Tucker. It's the way he commands a room. Tucker is considered an A-list recruiter and to be an elite recruiter you need to be able to connect with not only young people but their parents. Being able to talk the talk and walk the walk can be two entirely different things. Are you full of bull or do you mean what you say?
When he speaks he isn't all wired up like he's had 6 red bulls. He is just very matter of fact about it. "We will be best conditioned," Tucker says as he glances at the room in the Dal Ward Center during his introductory presser, while barely batting an eyelash. He says it without raising his voice or talking fast, he just means business. "We will be physical," Tucker continues looking like a father that just told his kids to do their chores. Tucker talked about being prepared. "You feel anxious when you aren't prepared. We will be prepared." No energy in his voice. Yet it resonates loud and clear.
Tucker talked about recruiting Texas, California, and Louisiana as critical. Clearly, he understands that recruiting is the lifeline of all programs in college football. Tucker - "Good players make you a good coach. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the players at Georgia." I heard an old interview with Nick Saban on a radio show this morning where he talked about being a 15-year-old quarterback in West Virginia and in the final minutes he asked his head coach to call the play so he wouldn't feel responsible for calling the wrong play if it failed. His High School coach told him about their two all-state players and told young Nick Saban "think players, not plays." Saban threw a pass to one of their all-state players and he scored a touchdown. Saban to this day credits this as his first teaching moment as a coach. Tucker seems to understand this as well.
Tucker wasn't sure what he would do with his staff yet but did say it wasn't necessarily going to be all about the x's and o's. "I can't promise you we are going to bring in every guru, x and o guy," Tucker said. He did continue to say that the coaches he would bring in would have the highest character and integrity.
Tucker understands what it is like to be a part of great programs having worked with Nick Saban and Kirby Smart in the SEC. Can he bring toughness and physicality to the Pac-12, which is widely considered a finesse league? We shall see, but he has the blueprint. Stanford and Washington are the two most physical teams in the conference and ironically enough those have been the most consistent programs. If Tucker can recruit Texas and California well I believe he has the coaching acumen to raise some hell in the soft Pac-12.