Mel Tucker or no Mel Tucker, analysts say CU Buffs football not “a stepping-stone job”

BOULDER — Like darn near everybody in CU circles, Gary Barnett dug Mel Tucker personally. But given that the new Michigan State football coach’s resume features nine different pit stops since 2000 and six since 2010, Barnett also figured a day like last Wednesday was coming.

And like darn near everybody inside and outside CU circles, he was aghast that day came as soon as it did.

“You had a guy who came in from the NFL, who came in from the pinnacle, from the rich, passionate areas of the SEC,” the Buffs radio analyst and former coach said of Tucker’s stunning departure from Boulder to the Big Ten. “(To come) to an area where — he wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable. But it wasn’t the same comfort level as someplace else.”

“I don’t see Wisconsin any differently”

It’s not that Buffs fans don’t love ‘em. It’s that they’re having a heck of a time keeping ‘em.

Tucker’s replacement will be CU’s fifth full-time football coach since 2010. To put that in perspective, from 1985-2005 the Buffs went through just three coaches: Bill McCartney and two former McCartney assistants, Rick Neuheisel (1995-99) and Barnett (1999-2005). More perspective: From 2010 to present, the average Pac-12 program had only 2.9 different bosses.

“If you go back to the national championship days (1990) and go from there to now, not many teams have won a national championship at that time,” said Gerry DiNardo, the former CU assistant coach and current Big Ten Network analyst. “It’s a have and have-not business.

“I don’t think CU is necessarily a have-not. Now, I don’t think they’re funded like Ohio State.”

Outside of maybe Texas and Texas A&M, few programs are. The Buckeyes ranked No. 3 in the nation among Division I public-school athletic department revenues in the 2017-18 school year, according to USA Today, one of nine Big Ten schools to land among the country’s top 25. Michigan State ranked 13th.

The Pac-12, meanwhile, placed two schools in that camp: UCLA (No. 21) and Washington (22).