Mel Tucker Won’t Say If He’s Leaving Alabama for Georgia
PHOENIX – Alabama defensive backs coach Mel Tucker refused to discuss reports that he’s leaving the Crimson Tide for Georgia Saturday.
Instead, Tucker, a first-year Alabama coach, answered by saying his “focus” was all on the Crimson Tide’s Monday night College Football Playoff National Championship game against Clemson.
“My focus, my mental energy, my physical energy, everything is all in and committed to preparation for this football game,” Tucker said. “My thought process and my mindset is squarely on this moment and this opportunity, and I’m not thinking about anything other than that right now.”
Tucker is expected to join new Georgia head coach Kirby Smart’s staff as the team’s defensive coordinator upon the conclusion of Monday’s game.
In his first season with the Crimson Tide, Tucker has had a noticeable impact on improving Alabama’s secondary this season after the group struggled with inconsistency in 2014. After falling to 59th nationally (226 yards per game) in pass defense last season, the Crimson Tide has jumped to 18th (186 yards) in the same category this season, despite three new starters.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban hired Tucker on Jan. 29, 2015 after the Chicago Bears fired him from his defensive coordinator position the end of the 2014 season. Previously, Tucker spent two seasons as a graduate assistant under Saban at Michigan State and later became his defensive backs coach for one season at LSU in 2000.
Prior to this season, Tucker spent the previous 10 seasons coaching in the NFL, including seven as a defensive coordinator with three teams – the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Bears.
After it was announced Smart had taken the Georgia job, Saban hired Jeremy Pruitt to replace him as the team’s defensive coordinator rather than promote Tucker.
According to a report Saturday from FOXSports.com’s Bruce Feldman, Tucker turned down an opportunity to interview for the University of Texas at San Antonio head coaching vacancy, following Larry Coker’s resignation earlier this week.
Watch Saturday's interview with Tucker: