When I heard the news about Mel Tucker and his name being mentioned for the open Michigan State head coaching job, my mind immediately went to the movie Jerry Maguire. You know the scene where Jerry is in the hotel room with the Cushman’s, the family of the next big time NFL QB, Frank Cushman. While Jerry is celebrating the fact that one of his clients will go #1 in the draft, he finds out that Frank and his father had already signed with rival agent, Bob Sugar. Jerry, clearly devastated, pleads with Frank’s father, “Tell me you didn’t sign…..I’m still sort of moved by your “My word is stronger than oak” thing.”
Gut wrenching, right? I wonder if CU AD, Rick George, felt the same way when the Michigan State rumor surfaced. “Mel has turned heads here with the culture he’s quickly building and recruiting success he’s had, so it’s only natural that programs looking for a coach are going to be taking note,” George said in a statement released by CU’s Associate AD, David Plati. “I know he’s committed to the Buffs all the way and we’re committed to supporting the vision he has for our program and winning championships. I’ve said plenty of times that we couldn’t be more excited that Mel is our head coach.”
Rick is right about the culture in Boulder. In just one year, Tucker has created a winning environment by not only saying all the right things but also by bringing in some big name recruits and transfers. Sure, the Buffs only won 5 games in 2019 but there’s no doubt that CU feels like a team that should be taken seriously and that’s thanks to Tucker.
He vowed not only to turn CU football in to a consistent winner but also to toughen up the “tennis shoe/flag football league” that is the Pac 12. We all bought in. Why wouldn’t we? He is tough but positive. He has swagger but isn’t arrogant. He is committed to Colorado but won’t ignore phone calls from other big name schools…..wait…..that’s not a good thing, is it? How can Buffs fans truly believe a guy is all in when, after one season, is already considering greener pastures? Friday night was filled with nervous energy from Boulder that spread throughout the state and Coach Tucker took his time dispelling those rumors. Come to think of it, I don’t think he ever actually denied interviewing with the Spartans. “While I am flattered to be considered for the head coaching job at Michigan State, I am committed to CU Buffs Football for the build of our program, its great athletes, coaches and supporters,” Tucker tweeted on Saturday. Sure, it says enough. Tucker will not be the next head football coach for Michigan State for one reason or another. Did he interview? Did he take the call simply because of his previous connection to Michigan State? (Graduate assistant under Nick Saban in 1997/98) Is he committed to CU UNLES the right offer comes along? What if the Buffs get into a bowl game in 2020? What if they advance to the Pac 12 championship? What if……. you see where I’m going here?
The 2020 season should be a lot of fun for Colorado but in the back of fans minds there will be the sinking feeling of losing their head coach. With every TD, every win, every tiny bit of success that the Buffs enjoy in the foreseeable future, there will be a fear of losing it all as Mel Tucker becomes more and more popular. I don’t blame teams for reaching out to the guy. He is and will be a great head coach for years and years to come. But one season? After all the speeches, all the press conferences, all the promises – in just one year and Tucker’s name is already swirling around the rumor mill.
Is CU not worthy enough? Is a Pac 12 job simply not up to the standards of the brightest, smartest and toughest coaches in college football? Since when did Colorado become a stepping stone job like Colorado State?
So while Mel Tucker is (recommitted) to the Buffs and we can get back to our lives, one has to wonder if and when he’ll be on the phone again with the Bob Sugar’s of the world. If so, I guess we can all pray for Colorado’s version of Rod Tidwell.