ATHENS ― While nothing appears close to being finalized, Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker could end up becoming the coach at Tennessee.
Tucker is interviewing a second time at Tennessee, ESPN reporter Mark Schlabach reported on Tuesday. Tucker was not immediately available for comment.
But Tucker was not among the three names that SEC Country’s Mike Griffith reported on Tuesday to be the main candidates to emerge: Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, SMU coach Chad Morris and Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
Tennessee’s search to replace Butch Jones has been, at the risk of severely understating it, chaotic. The school ended up replacing its athletic director with legendary former coach Phillip Fulmer.
Tucker would not be the big name that Volunteers fans clamor for, but he does have an increasingly strong résumé. Georgia’s defense ranks fourth nationally in fewest yards allowed entering the postseason and has been the backbone of a team that just won an SEC championship and will play Oklahoma in a national semifinal.
Prior to coming to Georgia in 2016, Tucker was the secondary coach at Alabama for one season after a long tenure in the NFL that included stints with three teams as a defensive coordinator. He was also the interim coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars at the conclusion of one season.
Georgia coaches are on the road recruiting this week, with players off until finals are over. The sentiment of several people around the program is that while the situation at Tennessee has been wild, an SEC head coaching job would be tough to turn down.
Tucker was a semifinalist this year for the Broyles Award, which goes to the nation’s top assistant coach, and was awarded to Clemson’s Tony Elliott on Tuesday. Georgia coach Kirby Smart was asked in October to assess Tucker’s future as a head coach.