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Getting To Know New Alabama Football Coach Mel Tucker

Young, energetic Coach Melvin Tucker will emphasize a secondary that creates turnovers - a notable issue the past few seasons for the Tide.

Mel Tucker.
Mel Tucker.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

It is highly unusual for a coach in his mid-40s to go from NFL coordinator to college assistant. But the hiring of former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as Alabama secondary coach is not your normal situation - especially when the hiring coach is future Hall of Famer Nick Saban.

This is not a new relationship between the Alabama head man and the Cleveland, Ohio native. After his college career at Wisconsin ended, Tucker began his coaching career in 1997 as a graduate assistant at Michigan State under then head coach Saban. In 1999, he got his first full-time job as defensive backs coach for Miami (Ohio). A year later, he rejoined Saban at LSU in the same position.

His next move was closer to home to Ohio State where he served four seasons under coach Jim Tressel, enjoying a National Championship in 2002. Two of Tucker's Buckeyes, safeties Mike Doss and Will Allen, won first-team All-America honors. Doss was so honored in 2001 and 2002, also being named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. Allen, who just completed his twelfth NFL season, was accorded All-America recognition in 2003 in his first year as a starter. Additionally, cornerback Chris Gamble was a second team All-American pick in 2003. Gamble played nine NFL seasons in Carolina.

In 2005, Tucker's dream job came along in an offer from head coach Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham for his hometown Cleveland Browns as defensive backs coach. In his first season, the Browns were first in the NFL in points per game allowed (14.5) and tenth in passing yards allowed (190.4). In his first season as defensive coordinator in 2008, the Browns were second in the NFL with 23 interceptions and ranked 16th in scoring defense (21.9 points per game).

After Crennel was fired, Tucker moved on to Jacksonville where he served as DC under Jack Del Rio from 2009-2011. When Del Rio was shown the door after starting the 2011 season at 3-18, Tucker got a taste at being an NFL head coach finishing out the last five games as the head man winning two games.

Mike Mularkey was next up in Jax. Though disappointed he was not hired, Tucker stayed on and was elevated to Assistant Head Coach of the Jaguars. However, Mularkey was canned after one lowly season with two wins.

The next stop at Chi-town was a rocky one from the beginning. Head coach Marc Trestman won two Grey Cups in the Canadian Football League but could not translate his success to the NFL. Tucker's defenses ranked near the bottom of the NFL in his two seasons in the Windy City. The much-maligned Bears DC took a lot of heat from Chicago fans and the media alike. If there was a silver lining, it was that the Bears were #8 and #14 in the league in interceptions and #2 and #5 in forced fumbles in his two years.

Tucker defenses thrive on causing turnovers, something that was lacking with the Crimson Tide this past season. Even with 14 games, Bama was still 70th in the nation in interceptions with 11 and 84th in forced fumbles with 9.

He (Tucker) employs a lot of two-deep with single-high looks, using the strong safety in the middle and the free safety to the weak side of the formation. With a two-deep shell, the DBs can break inside to react to curls, digs and posts. It gives up yardage in the soft under-belly (medium-range passes) so it is predicated on getting turnovers. It's a lot like what we've seen from the Bears during the Lovie years, although Tucker did employ a 3-4 with Cleveland., January 19, 2013

Of course, Tucker does not have control over what schemes 'Bama calls. Though, he will be able to work within the Saban/Kirby Smart system and tutor the young yet-extremely talented secondary.

Only 42 years young, he has coached for some pretty bad NFL teams and some pretty good college teams. A return to college ball seems like a good move for Tucker. And doing it with the 15-time National Champ Crimson Tide is not a bad decision.