Mel Tucker: Nick Saban Hasn't Changed In 20 Years

Tucker coached under Saban at Michigan State and Alabama; the experiences were almost identical

The DA Show
August 21, 2019 - 12:44 pm
Nick Saban Alabama Clemson

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Mel Tucker has coached at some of the top programs in college football, including Ohio State, Alabama and Georgia. He is unique in that he has coached under Nick Saban two decades apart – first at Michigan State in the 1990s, and again at Alabama in 2015.

So, how did Saban change over those two decades? Answer: he didn’t.

“Coach Saban hasn’t really changed,” Tucker said on The DA Show. “The staff meetings, I was sitting in staff meetings in 1997, and they went a certain way. I get to Alabama in 2015, and it was the same thing. The only thing that’s different is he’s perfected everything. He’s taken his program, his system, his terminology, his schemes on both sides of the ball, how he runs his program as a CEO ad he just hones it down. It’s like clockwork. He’s perfected it. His drive and determination has not fallen off. He’s just as relentless, he’s confrontational, demands excellence, (has) a sense of urgency day-in and day-out, and he is the hardest-working coach on the staff. He was like that in 1997. He’s like that now.”

Tucker, now the head coach at Colorado, would love for people to say the same thing about him in two decades, that he hasn’t changed.

“I want people to look at me and say, ‘He’s a good man, what you see is what you get, he’s going to tell it to you straight, he’s a guy that I trust, I love playing for him, I love working with him, he’s a guy that was a good role model to our young people,’” Tucker said. “That’s what I’d like people to say.”

Tucker, who spent the last three seasons coaching under Kirby Smart at Georgia, inherits a program that went 5-7 each of the last two years. Tucker is working to remake Colorado in his image.

“First we want to be a smart football team, we want to be physical, we want to play fast – we never stop,” he said. “So when you look on the field and you see our team play, you’re going to see those guys are well-coached, they never stop, they’re relentless, they’re physical – that’s a team that knows how to play the game of football. That’s what our identity is going to be.”

Colorado opens the season against Colorado State at Mile High on Aug. 30 before hosting No. 24 Nebraska on Sept. 7. That will be an important game, as Colorado and Nebraska are often vying for the same recruits.

“I’ve never coached in a game that we weren’t expected to win,” said Tucker, who helped Jim Tressel win a national title at Ohio State. “But I look at is as a great moment. Those are great moments and opportunities for us to go out there and show everybody what we’re all about. So we embrace those opportunities.”

Click below to listen to Tucker’s interview in its entirety.