Smart plucks Tucker from 'Bama staff to lead Georgia defense
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Kirby Smart completed filling his new Georgia staff on Tuesday by hiring Alabama defensive backs coach and assistant head coach Mel Tucker as the Bulldogs' defensive coordinator.
Smart completed his stay as Alabama's defensive coordinator with Monday night's 45-40 win over Clemson in the College Football Playoff title game. Smart previously filled other spots on his Georgia staff but waited until after the national championship game to announce he was taking Tucker with him to Athens.
Tucker spent one year with Smart on Alabama's staff following seven years as a NFL defensive coordinator, including the 2013-14 seasons with the Chicago Bears. He also served four years heading Jacksonville's defense. He served on Cleveland's staff for four years, including one season as defensive coordinator.
Tucker was Jacksonville's interim head coach for the final five games of the 2011 season, when the Jaguars ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense. He was named Jacksonville's assistant head coach in 2012.
Georgia hired Smart to replace Mark Richt on Dec. 6. That left Smart with about five weeks to juggle his duties with Alabama while also recruiting for Georgia and building his staff.
Tuesday was Smart's first day to devote his full attention to his new job. His first act was to hire Tucker, a move that had been rumored.
Tucker also coached with Alabama coach Nick Saban as a graduate assistant at Michigan State and an assistant at LSU. He coached at Ohio State for three years, including the Buckeyes' 2002 national championship season.
Tucker, a native of Cleveland, was a four-year letterman as a defensive back at Wisconsin, where he graduated in 1995.
Soon after he was hired by Georgia, Smart hired another member of Alabama's staff, Glenn Schumann, as a defensive assistant.
Schumann used his Twitter account on Tuesday to post a photo of himself with Tucker, each wearing Georgia shirts, on a plane headed to Athens. ''All Dawg Now!!! Wheels Up for Athens!!'' Tucker said.
Shane Beamer, the associate head coach and running backs coach at Virginia Tech the last five years and son of longtime Hokies coach Frank Beamer, was named Georgia's special teams coordinator and tight ends coach last week.
Two of Smart's first hires were Pittsburgh's Jim Chaney as offensive coordinator and Sam Pittman from Arkansas as offensive line coach. Smart added Dell McGee from Georgia Southern as running backs coach, James Coley from Miami as wide receivers coach and Washington's Marshall Malchow as recruiting coordinator.
Smart retained defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer from Richt's staff.
AP College Football website: collegefootball.ap.org