Mark Tucker, 54, has been named the fourth head football coach in CSU history. He replaces Jamey Chadwell, who accepted the associate head coach/offensive coordinator position at Coastal Carolina.
Tucker spent the last four seasons as CSU’s quarterbacks coach and takes over a program that has won back-to-back Big South Conference championships and FCS playoff berths.
“It was obvious to all of us around the program from the start that one of Jamey’s gifts was to hire people, to recognize outstanding teachers, coaches, people that have great relationships with their players,” said Hank Small, athletic director. “It was because of that we first looked inside the staff to see if we had our next head coach. It wasn’t hard to find an obvious answer to that question.”
Tucker has been influential over the past four seasons as the Buccaneers’ offense developed into one of the top rushing attacks in the nation. During his tenure, he developed consistent quarterback play with Shane Bucenell, Austin Brown, Kyle Copeland, Malcolm Dixon and Danny Croghan all making significant impacts.
Tucker’s impact was showcased with the rapid development of Bucenell in 2016 as the Buccaneers again sat among national leaders in time of possession and rushing. Bucenell, twice named the Big South Freshman of the Week, shined when the Bucs needed him most with a season-high four touchdown passes in CSU’s double overtime win over Coastal Carolina. He added three touchdowns apiece in wins over Bucknell and Liberty in guiding the Bucs to a Big South championship and a berth in the FCS Playoffs.
Tucker’s experience proved valuable for CSU in 2013, as the Bucs set a school record with 10 victories to earn a No. 22 final national ranking. Under Tucker, Dixon played the best football of his career to pace CSU to a 4-0 start. When Dixon went down with an injury during the fourth quarter of the Appalachian State game, Tucker was then able to mentor a pair of freshmen in Croghan and Copeland. The Bucs continued to win even without their veteran signal-caller, as Croghan ran up a 5-1 record as a starter to earn Big South Offensive Freshman of the Year honors. Copeland too showed flashes of his potential, starting twice and rushing for 230 yards and three touchdowns.
Tucker said, “The gentlemen I’ve had the opportunity to coach with and work with over the last four years have been incredible. Good friends, good family, good men. There’s a reason the young men in our charge have done the things they have done. It’s about direction, leadership and focus. Jamey’s approach every day was to find a different way to communicate purpose and discipline and the mission at hand. Those things I’m going to take with me. I’d like to think he learned a lot from me over the past 19 years, as I learned a great deal from him.”
CSU’s 35 wins over the last four seasons are the most over a four-year stretch in program history. The Bucs were ranked for 22 consecutive weeks and finished the 2016 season ranked No. 14 in the FCS Coaches Poll and No. 15 in the STATS FCS Top 25 after appearing in the national rankings just once in the program’s first 22 seasons.
This past season, the Bucs had 12 players earn All-Big South honors. Leading that group were Defensive Player of the Year Anthony Ellis and Special Teams Player of the Year Darius Hammond. CSU was first in the Big South total defense at 294.1 yards per game (7th nationally), as well as first in yards per rush (6.0), punt returns (15.2 – 13th) and kickoff returns (25.4 – 2nd). The Bucs also ranked among the nation’s best in rushing offense (266.5 – 6th), passing yards allowed (158.8 – 3rd), sacks (2.6 – 18th) and scoring offense (33.0 –20th).
Tucker is a former assistant at two Southern Conference schools. He spent four seasons at ETSU, where he coached the offensive line for one season and running backs and tight ends for two years.
In his six seasons as an assistant at The Citadel, Tucker was part of record-setting offenses for the Bulldogs. He served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during his final season in 1996.
Prior to being named the offensive coordinator, he coached offensive skill players over a three-year stretch during some of the Bulldogs’ best seasons in school history. In 1994, The Citadel set the national rushing record with 382.6 yards per game, which led all divisions. He was also part of the Bulldogs squad that reached the I-AA Quarterfinals and won the Southern Conference championship in 1992. That team was ranked No. 1 in the national poll during the season. He was also an assistant at The Citadel for one season in 1988 when the Bulldogs reached the I-AA Playoffs and were ranked 14th nationally.
Tucker played at ETSU from 1982-1986 and was a three-year letterman at quarterback.