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Nick Saban on new assistant Mel Tucker: "an outstanding coach all the way around"

It’s official: Former much-maligned Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has joined Nick Saban’s staff at the University of Alabama.

Tucker, 43, will coach defensive backs and hold the title of assistant head coach. He has worked for Saban twice before, as a graduate assistant at Michigan State and as defensive backs coach at LSU.

“I’ve known Coach Saban since I was 17 years old and he recruited me when he was the head coach at Toledo,” said Tucker. “He gave me my first job at Michigan State, and most of what I learned as a defensive backs coach came from him. He has always been extremely loyal to me and my family, and is a trusted friend and mentor. We’ve become big Crimson Tide fans through the years. … I have the utmost respect this program and what Coach Saban stands for as a man and as a coach.”

Tucker is an ideal fit, according to Saban, because his presence will allow defensive coordinator Kirby Smart — who also was coaching the Crimson Tide’s DBs — to focus instead on the team’s inside linebackers. That area has long been a specialty for Smart.

“I’ve known Mel for almost 20 years going back to Michigan State when I hired him as a graduate assistant,” said Saban. “He is an outstanding coach all the way around and really does an excellent job in terms of teaching the players. When you look at his college and NFL experience, his résumé is very impressive. He’ll be a positive addition to our defensive staff.”

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @slgreenberg