First things first.
The given name of the wife of the man tasked with turning around the Colorado football program is JoEllyn. But if Buffaloes fans see her around town and want to welcome her to the community, she prefers to go by JoJo.
As always when a coach fulfills a lifelong dream, as Mel Tucker did Thursday in his official introduction as the 26th football coach in CU history, there almost always are the loved ones in the background who stood with him every step of the way — never wavering through all the firings, new houses and new hometowns.
For Tucker, those people are his wife JoJo and two sons, 16-year old Joseph and 14-year old Christian. Tucker’s family momentarily stepped out of their background role (at least in public) to sit in the front row as Tucker took center stage as a head coach for the first time since his coaching journey began at as a graduate assistant at Michigan State in 1997.
“As a family with a football coach you sacrifice, and this is what you work towards,” JoJo Tucker said. “All those years and the reasons why you move your kids one year, two years after getting them somewhere. It is tough, but it’s a matter of how you handle it as a family. Our boys have always felt like they were part of the decisions, and they’ve always felt like we’ve made an effort as soon as we get there to find their sports, find their schools, and get them settled. And then the rest falls into place.”
Tucker’s job-to-job resume of course is typical of a veteran coach, with nine different stops beginning with that first job at Michigan State. The first half or so of Tucker’s coaching career was a little less nomadic, with a trio of four-year stops in a row at Ohio State and in the NFL at Cleveland and Jacksonville. Since the start of the 2013, though, Tucker has plied his trade at three stops in six seasons, spending two seasons as the defensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears before moving to Alabama and then Georgia.
That’s a lot of stops for a family with two teenagers. JoJo Tucker reports that Christian is a standout lacrosse player, in addition to playing football. Joseph is a soccer player, but the family hasn’t settled on what high school the pair will attend.
JoJo Tucker said she planned on meeting with a realtor Thursday afternoon.
“No trepidation. This is exciting and we love it. Can’t wait to get here,” JoJo Tucker said. “The boys have been on the slopes before. But this is what they’ve grown up with. Obviously when they were younger it was easier to keep news away from them. But now they’re 16 and 14. They tell me all that stuff now.”