Former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will be Alabama’s new secondary coach according to sources.
It’s a reunion for Tucker and Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban. Tucker got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant under Saban at Michigan State from 1997-98 and coached defensive backs for Saban for a season at LSU two years later.
The 43-year-old Tucker is beloved by players and a renowned college recruiter, landing NFL first-round pick Ted Ginn Jr. and Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith while coaching at Ohio State. His hiring means that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who had also coached the secondary, will slide back to his positional duties of coaching inside linebackers.
Tucker oversaw a beleaguered Chicago defense the last two seasons, both years among the NFL’s worst. Prior to that, he was defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2009-12. He coached the Jaguars to a 2-3 record as the franchise’s interim coach in 2011 after taking over for the fired Jack Del Rio.
Tucker was an assistant for the Cleveland Browns from 2005-07, first as a linebackers coach before becoming defensive coordinator in his final season. Before that, he was an assistant at Ohio State from 2001-04, first as defensive backs coach and was co-defensive coordinator his final year.
In between Tucker’s stints at Michigan State and LSU, he coached defensive backs at Miami (Ohio) in 1999. A Cleveland native, he played defensive back at Wisconsin from 1990-94.
Tucker’s hiring along with the promotion of defensive analyst Tosh Lupoi to outside linebackers coach, a move first reported by SI.com, fills Alabama’s two on-field coaching positions. They opened because of the departures of former assistants Kevin Steele (LSU defensive coordinator) and outside linebackers coach Lance Thompson (Auburn linebackers coach).