ATHENS — Mel Tucker still didn’t want to admit that he’s leaving Alabama to become Georgia’s defensive coordinator. But he didn’t have to.
His players and fellow coaches came up to him in continuous waves in the coaches’ dressing room at the back of the locker room on the bottom of level of the University of Phoenix Stadium Monday night. They were all telling him how much they enjoyed working with him and best of luck at Georgia.
But when it came to saying anything official, Tucker remained ever loyal to the process.
“I think tomorrow would be a better time (to talk about the Georgia job),” Tucker said following the Crimson Tide’s 45-40 win over Clemson in the national championship game. “I’m just going to enjoy this win. It’s such a great group of guys and coaches. So I’m going to enjoy this for 24 hours.”
Asked whether there was any chance reports about him coming to Georgia could be wrong, Tucker laughed.
“You’ll be OK,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to going back to the hotel and enjoying this with my family. Then we’ll move on to the next thing.”
Tucker comes to UGA with a wealth of experience. His 10-year stint in the NFL includes three different appointments as defensive coordinator.
He has coached defensive backs at Alabama for the last year since not being retained by the Chicago Bears. Tucker was credited with making a patchwork group into a well-oiled unit.
Until Monday that is. Clemson exploited the Alabama secondary for 405 yards and four touchdowns.
“You could see it on the field; Deshaun Watson is a great player,” Tucker said. “They’ve got a lot of great players and they have a great coaching staff. They put a lot of pressure on you. We talked about it being a 15-round fight and that it was going to go all the way to the end. So we expected that. We just had to make one more play. And we did.”