UGA DC Mel Tucker among names connected to Tennessee head coaching search

Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker arrives at Mercedes-Benz Stadium before the SEC Championship game between Georgia and Auburn in Atlanta, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. (Photo/Joshua L. Jones, Athens Banner-Herald)

Tennessee’s prolonged search for a head football coach is now touching the Georgia football program.

 

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is holding a second interview Tuesday in New York City with Phillip Fulmer about the opening, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach reported.

Tucker is in his second season working as coordinator under Kirby Smart at Georgia after serving as his defensive backs coach at Alabama when Smart was coordinator.

Georgia is third in the nation in scoring defense (13.2) and fourth in total defense (270.9) after earning the program’s first spot in the College Football Playoff.

Smart was asked Monday night before speaking in Charlotte, N.C. at the Bronko Nagurksi Award banquet whether Tennessee has reached out to Tucker.

“I’ll be honest with you, that’s Mel Tucker’s business,” Smart told 11alive.com. “That’s nothing I’d like to share right now. Mel’s done a tremendous job for us. He’ll continue to do a tremendous job. I am a big believer that your success gives opportunities to others. That’s really what this profession is about, Mel’s been a really successful coach at a lot of places he’s been. I think Mel’s going to make a great head coach one day whether it’s this year, next year or some other time.”

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is also interviewing with Tennessee on Tuesday, according to Auburn Undercover. He played at Tennessee and had two stints on staff there.

Steele, SMU head coach Chad Morris and Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables are the top three candidates, according to Mike Griffith of SEC Country.

Former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema also is on Tennessee’s radar, according to ESPN.com.

Tucker, 45, was an interim head coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars where he served as a defensive coordinator and was also defensive coordinator with the Browns and Bears. The Cleveland native also coached defensive backs at Ohio State and LSU.

Fulmer, the former Vols football coach, stepped in as athletic director Friday after John Currie was fired. He had high profile-pursuits of Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, N.C. State’s Dave Doeren and Washington State’s Mike Leach in seeking a replacement for the fired Butch Jones.

 

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