SEC title game coordinators Mike Locksley, Mel Tucker emerge as favorites for Maryland, Colorado head coaching jobs

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. 

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