The SEC Championship Game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Georgia could be the last game for a pair of high-ranking assistant coaches on both sidelines. Multiple outlets are reporting that Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and Bulldogs defensive coordinator Mel Tucker are front-runners for the vacancies at Maryland and Colorado, respectively.
Dan Wolken of USA Today writes that while Tucker has been targeted by Colorado, a deal “has not been finalized.” Furthermore, Locksley is expected to speak with Maryland over the weekend to wrap things up.
Locksley is well-connected at Maryland, having served as an assistant there from 1997-2002, and again from 2012-15. He also briefly served as the Terps’ interim coach in ’15 when coach Randy Edsall was fired. He is particularly well-known for having strong recruiting ties to the Washington D.C. area.
Locksley was New Mexico’s coach from 2009-2011 and amassed a mere 2-26 record. His time at UNM was also marred by multiple controversies, including a brief suspension for getting into an altercation with an assistant. However, he’s played a pivotal role in Alabama’s emergence as an offensive powerhouse. With Heisman Trophy frontrunner Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, the Tide are second in the nation in points per game and yards per play.
Tucker has more of a NFL background, having spent a decade in the league from 2005-2014 as a defensive assistant with the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears. However, he returned to college to coach Alabama’s defensive backs in 2015. He followed then-Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to Georgia where he was promoted to run the Bulldogs’ defense. Georgia has posted a top-10 scoring defense in each of the past two seasons under Tucker.
Colorado fired coach Mike MacIntyre in November after six straight losses to fall to 5-6. The Buffaloes finished 5-7 on the year and had five losing seasons in six years under MacIntyre, the lone exception being an unexpected 10-4 effort in 2016. Maryland, which is reportedly also considering interim coach Matt Canada and Michigan passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton, parted ways with D.J. Durkin midway through the season following multiple scandals into the culture of the program that included the offseason passing of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.