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Why Georgia’s Mel Tucker is a popular candidate for a head coaching job

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Georgia and Alabama face off today at the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. Here are 5 facts about the recent history of Georgia and Alabama's rivalry.
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Georgia and Alabama face off today at the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. Here are 5 facts about the recent history of Georgia and Alabama's rivalry.

The University of Georgia may soon be looking for a new defensive coordinator. The current one, Mel Tucker, is once again in the news as a potential front-runner for multiple head coaching positions around college football.

Reports are swirling the University of Colorado is considering hiring Tucker for its vacant head coaching position. On November 18, the Buffaloes fired Mike MacIntyre, who compiled a record of 30-44 during his tenure with the team including a 5-6 record this season before he was fired.

Tucker has been rumored to be in the running for the head coaching vacancies at Maryland, Louisville and North Carolina.

Despite the reports, Colorado athletic director Rick George, through spokesperson David Plati said that “Rick has not offered the head coaching position to anyone at this point; he is still in the discussion and evaluation stages and won’t make a decision on a final candidate until early next week.”

Even if Colorado ends up going in a different direction, Tucker’s name will continue to come up in the other coaching searches. With all the rumors and speculation about Tucker, it leaves many asking what makes the Bulldogs defensive coordinator such a sought after commodity.

A year ago, Tucker was rumored to be a front runner for the University of Tennessee head coaching position. The Volunteers eventually selected Greg Schiano, before backing out of a verbal agreement amid backlash. The Volunteers went on to hire former Georgia and Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt for the job.

Tucker comes from the same coaching tree that has spawned the likes of Kirby Smart, Jimbo Fisher and Pruitt. Of course that tree is headed up by Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Tucker served as a graduate assistant for Saban at Michigan State and would join him again at LSU. He would leave after one season to join another legendary coach at Ohio State, Jim Tressel. He won a national championship with the Buckeyes in 2002 as the defensive backs coach.

Tucker left the college ranks for the NFL where he served as a defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Chicago Bears. He also went 2-3 as the interim head coach for the Jaguars during his stint with the team. After leaving the Bears 2014, he returned to college football.

He joined the staff at Alabama under Saban and Smart — who was defensive coordinator at the time. Smart was hired as the head coach at the University of Georgia in 2015. He brought Tucker along with him to be his defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.

Since joining the staff at Georgia he has helped lead its defense to some impressive numbers. The Bulldogs ranked sixth in total defense a year ago. They ranked eighth in passing yards allowed per game at 169 yards and were ranked No. 20 against the run with around 120 yards per game. This season the team is ranked No. 13 in the country in total defense and has held teams to under 30 points in all but one game.

In a press conference earlier this season, Smart acknowledged that Tucker was being mentioned for multiple jobs, but that the coordinator had handled himself with professionalism all around.

“He’s worried about these guys on this team. He’s worried about coaching his tail off for them, leading the defensive unit,” Smart said. “I’ve been there and done that. I know what that’s like to have your name mentioned in a lot of jobs. I know that Mel’s focus is on getting his guys ready to play.”

Telegraph correspondent Brandon Sudge contributed to this report