Home Sports Coordinators Mike Locksley, Mel Tucker favorites at Maryland, Colorado

Coordinators Mike Locksley, Mel Tucker favorites at Maryland, Colorado

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USA TODAY

A pair of assistants coaching in Saturday’s SEC championship game have emerged as heavy favorites to become head coaches elsewhere, with deals likely to be finalized early next week.

Colorado has targeted Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, according a person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized. Meanwhile, according to a separate person with knowledge of the situation, Maryland will talk with Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley this weekend with the expectation that his interview will clear any final hurdles for the hire to be made. 

Tucker, 46, spent a decade as an NFL assistant before Alabama hired him in 2015 as defensive backs coach. Tucker followed Kirby Smart to Georgia and has led a defense that finished in the top-20 each of his three seasons. He was a finalist last year for the Tennessee job, and though he has never worked in the western half of the country, fits the defensive paradigm Colorado athletics director Rick George was looking for to transform the program. 

Maryland, meanwhile, is close to bringing back Locksley, who was an assistant there from 1997-2002 and again from 2012-15 and has strong recruiting connections in the Washington, D.C., metro area. 

Maryland initially indicated it would open up its search process and hired Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search to conduct background checks and interviews with other candidates.

However, a person with knowledge of the situation said the Parker firm and Maryland quietly ended their involvement in recent days as it became clear that influential boosters were set on Locksley, whose head coaching stint at New Mexico from 2009-11 was marred by a 2-26 record and some off-field baggage including a suspension for punching an assistant. 

The Washington Post reported Friday that Michigan passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton and current Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada were also set to be interviewed. 

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