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A Winning Tradition

How New Coach Mel Tucker is Looking to Bring the Best Out of the Buffaloes

Article by Lisa Van Horne

Photography by Poppy + Co.

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Mentor. Coach. Fan. Friend. With the upcoming college football season about to kick off, we chatted with the University of Colorado Boulder’s new head coach, Melvin “Mel” Tucker, about how he’s looking to foster a tradition of winning at the storied program.

First off, I’d love to hear your football “origin story.”

Coach: My dad introduced me to football at a young age. He played football and baseball at the University of Toledo, where he’s in the Hall of Fame, and he really educated me about the game. He took me to a lot of football games growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, which is such a football town, and when we weren’t going to games, we were either watching the Browns on TV or my cousins, friends and I were playing football in the street. I started playing intramurals in the fifth grade.

You played defensive back for the Wisconsin Badgers. What are some of your best memories from that experience?

Coach: I have two standout memories from Wisconsin. The first was signing my letter of intent and the excitement of knowing I had the opportunity to play at such a great school and in the Big Ten. I was part of Barry Alvarez’s first recruiting class in 1990, and I was a huge fan of how he’d started building the program. The second was graduating in May of 1995, which was a huge “mission accomplished” moment for me.

What drew you to a coaching career after college?

Coach: My dad had coached me in Little League Baseball growing up, and I always admired his ability to teach and motivate players. It felt like a natural way for me to stay close to football in my profession.

Does coaching differ a lot from being a player?

Coach: It’s totally different. I started as a defensive backs coach, and it’s a huge responsibility to be in charge of a handful of players and their development on the field and, especially in college coaching, off the field as well. High school coaches and parents really entrust you with working with these players and being a mentor to them.

What made you want to come back to college coaching after your most recent coaching experiences in the NFL?

Coach: I missed the element of recruiting and developing players that you get with college coaching. I think you have a deeper bond with players as a college coach. You often meet them in high school and then coach, develop and mentor them through graduation and sometimes into the NFL draft. I missed seeing players grow up and find success.

What are some of your goals as head coach at CU Boulder?

Coach: I’m excited about the tradition of Colorado football—the program has such a commitment to excellence. In addition to the obvious goal of winning championships, I’m looking to graduate every player every year and restore the program’s winning tradition in a way that can last.

What excites you most about the upcoming season?

Coach: I’m looking forward to this first season with our coaching staff and all our outstanding players. I’m excited to watch the team come together and to see what we can become.

What excites you most about being part of the Boulder community?

Coach: This is such a great place with a great fan base. It’s a football town with a desire to win and to win the right way, and I’m looking forward to putting a team on the field that CU Boulder alums, the fan base, and everyone in Boulder can be proud of.