By Eric Christensen

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– While University of Colorado athletic director Rick George turns his focus to identifying coaching candidates to replace the hastily departed Mel Tucker, Buff players are still struggling to wrap their minds around what happened.

(credit: CBS)

Mel Tucker informed George last night that he was taking the Michigan State job. George then called a team meeting with the players this morning at 8 a.m. to inform them that Tucker was leaving.

Shortly after that team meeting, we spoke with a couple CU players who were processing what happened in the past 12 hours.

“There’s a lot of disappointment and obviously a lot of people are surprised,” said safety Derrion Rakestraw. “I know this is a business but it’s still a crazy situation. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles and we have to figure out what’s next.”

“I was obviously hurt because Coach Tuck is a great coach,” said freshman safety Mark Perry. “Everybody enjoyed him while he was here, behind the scenes you saw the type of person he was so I was hurt but you got to move on.”

CU Buffs players weren’t the only ones surprised by today’s news. Fans and former players didn’t see Tucker’s exit coming either. Former Buff receiver Jeremy Bloom was in Boulder today and he too was caught off guard by the stunning news.

Mel Tucker (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

“My reaction was the same as yours and everyone else’s. Just shock,” said Bloom. “I think every Buff fan has the right to say where’s the integrity? You were here just over a year you just had a cup of coffee here in Boulder and then you left and bailed on us. But you have to consider the business. He’s doing what’s right for his family and he’s getting paid twice the amount he was getting paid here. It’s tough to be upset when you think of his family’s situation and his personal life but as a Buff fan and former player, it’s incredibly disappointing.”

So now Rick George begins the search for the school’s 27th head football coach. Former and current players are in agreement: They have full faith the George can find another good head coach.

“We have a lot of faith in Rick George,” said Rakestraw. “He’ll find us the best coach to come in here and get this team back on track. We have a lot of faith in Rick George to get this situation figured out.”

“What Buff fans should be optimistic about is that Rick George is the real star here,” said Bloom. “He recruited Mel Tucker, he’s the reason why we’re raising the amount of money we are. I think he’s the best athletic director in the country I really believe that. I think few people could do what he did here in Boulder. Once you get past the disappointment and shock value of Mel Tucker only being here for a little over a year, you move past it and say I believe in Rick and he’ll bring in someone great.”

Eric Christensen

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