Former Buffs head coach Gary Barnett on new coach Mel Tucker: “Everybody should be encouraged”

Jan 8, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive coordinator Mel Tucker walks onto the field prior to the 2018 CFP national championship college football game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

by Alex Becker (@a_beck9)

The Colorado Buffaloes have found their next head football coach in Mel Tucker, as the former Georgia defensive coordinator was officially hired on Wednesday. Tucker is set to become the 26thcoach in Colorado football history.

Tucker, 46, signed a 5-year deal worth $14.75 million and is set to make $2.4 million in his first year and then his salary will increase by $275,000 annually, not including any incentives. The Buffaloes’ signing of Tucker makes him the seventh head coach hired in the Pac-12 in just the last two years.

Gary Barnett, former Colorado head coach from 1999-2005 and current radio color commentator for CU football games, joined Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro of Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 to discuss the hiring of Tucker.

“It’s a great resume and absolutely fits the situation,” Barnett said of Tucker and his past coaching jobs under Nick Saban and Kirby Smart. However, Barnett added, “There is a steeper learning curve for a guy that hasn’t been a head coach.” Tucker was an interim head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars for six games in 2011, but Barnett said being an interim coach and being a college head coach are vastly different.

“Everybody should be encouraged, or at least excited, that someone whose credentials are as good as his is going to be in that position,” Barnett said. Tucker’s ability to connect with and motivate players has been a common theme since rumors started to circulate about Tucker taking over as CU’s head coach.

As for the recruiting challenges Tucker might face, Barnett explained that “he is going to have to learn how to recruit in the areas that Colorado has a presence, and that’s been California, Texas, and Colorado.” Tucker has many ties to the southeastern part of the country, but Barnett noted it is difficult for Colorado to recruit from that area because of the abundance of great football schools already in that region.

Click here to listen to the full interview with Gary Barnett, including what he had to say about where Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer – who announced that he will retire following the College Football Playoff – ranks on his list of great college football coaches, or listen to the podcast below.

Catch Afternoon Drive with Goodman and Shapiro every weekday from 4p-6p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup. Download the all-new free Mile High Sports Radio mobile app for Apple or Android.

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