Tide Adds Mel Tucker To Football Staff

University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced the hiring of Mel Tucker on Thursday. Tucker, who has spent 10 years coaching in the NFL and eight years in the college ranks, will serve as defensive backs coach and also hold the title of assistant head coach.

“I’ve known Mel Tucker for almost 20 years going back to Michigan State when I hired him as a graduate assistant,” said Alabama Coach Nick Saban. “He is an outstanding coach all the way around and really does an excellent job in terms of teaching the players. When you look at his college and NFL experience, his resume is very impressive, and he’ll be a positive addition to our defensive staff. Mel’s experience with the secondary will allow us to move Kirby back to coaching the inside linebackers, which has been most effective for our defensive coordinator. We’re pleased and happy to welcome Mel and his family to Tuscaloosa.”

Tucker spent the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. He was previously with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2009-12, also as the defensive coordinator. The Jags ranked sixth in the league in total defense in 2011, allowing just 313.0 yards per game. Tucker was Jacksonville’s interim head coach for the final five games of that season. He earned the additional title of assistant head coach with the Jaguars in 2012.

Prior to those two stops, Tucker was with the Cleveland Browns from 2005-08. He spent the first three years as the defensive backs coach and served as the defensive coordinator in 2008. In that season, the Browns were second in the NFL with 23 interceptions and ranked 16th in scoring defense (21.9 points per game).

“I’ve known Coach Saban since I was 17 years old and he recruited me when he was the head coach at Toledo,” said Tucker. “He gave me my first job at Michigan State and most of what I learned as a defensive backs coach came from him. He has always been extremely loyal to me and my family, and is a trusted friend and mentor. We’ve become big Crimson Tide fans through the years and our family actually went to the bowl games against Michigan State and Notre Dame. When I was invited to speak here at one of the coaching clinics, I really got to see first-hand how special the University of Alabama is and I’m honored to join Coach Saban’s staff. I have the utmost respect this program and what Coach Saban stands for as a man and as a coach.”

Tucker joined Nick Saban’s staff at Michigan State as a graduate assistant in 1997. After two years there, he then went to work as a defensive backs coach at Miami (Ohio) for one season in 1999. In 2000, Tucker returned to work with Saban at LSU for one season before going to Ohio State for a three-year stint (2001-03). The Buckeyes went 14-0 in 2002 and won the BCS National Championship. Tucker was elevated to co-defensive coordinator in 2004.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Tucker attended Cleveland Heights High School where he was a football standout and earned a scholarship to Wisconsin. He was a four-year letterman at defensive back for the Badgers and graduated in 1995.

Tucker’s wife, JoEllyn, earned her undergraduate degree at Illinois and her law degree from Rutgers. The couple has two sons: Joseph (12) and Christian (10).

All such employment contracts are subject to approval by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

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