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Kirby Smart made a big time hire with Scott Cochran.

Kirk Herbstreit calls Scott Cochran hiring a ‘coup’, former Alabama players praise move

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Scott Cochran hire for Georgia football earns high praise

Kirby Smart sent shock waves around the SEC and college football landscape with the hiring of Scott Cochran to become Georgia’s new special teams coordinator.

“Ask anyone who’s been around him, Scott’s passion and energy is contagious,” Smart said. “Special Teams Coordinator is a great fit as he’ll be working with all position groups.  His knowledge and experience elevates our entire program, and we’re excited to welcome the Cochran family to Athens.”

The move made headlines though because of Cochran’s longstanding ties to Nick Saban and Alabama. Cochran had been with Alabama since the beginning, as he joined the Alabama staff the same year Saban arrived. He played an integral role in molding so many of Alabama’s elite recruits into elite college football players.

Related: The hiring of Scott Cochran might hurt Nick Saban more than help Kirby Smart

Cochran was one of the highest-paid strength coaches in all of college football, as he made just under $600,000 last season. But the move from Alabama to Georgia will allow him to work in an on-field role, as well as go on the road to recruit.

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit — one of the biggest voices in the support — praised the move for Smart and Georgia, while also acknowledging it will hurt Alabama.

Cochran will fill the role that was once held by Scott Fountain. He left to take a similar role with Sam Pittman at Arkansas. Georgia had an opening on its coaching staff after James Coley had departed for Texas A&M. Georgia brought in Buster Faulkner earlier this offseason from Southern Miss but he will serve work in an off-field role.

Following the news, Alabama head coach Nick Saban released a statement on the departure of Cochran.

“We appreciate Scott’s contributions to our organization over the last 13 years,” Saban said. “We can’t thank him enough for his service and dedication to our program and his commitment to our players.

The announcement stunned many just given Cochran has been such a key part of the Alabama program. A number of former Alabama players took to Twitter on Monday to react to the news. And while some did take a shot or two at Smart, most where happy for Cochran that he would be getting a new opportunity.

Former Alabama tight end, who entered the Alabama program as a 5-star tight end and exited as a first-round pick, also provided more context on what Georgia is getting in Cochran.

“Scott Cochran is the epitome of a players’ coach.  He’s bringing energy and passion everyday,” Howard said. “Coach Cochran will bring out the absolute best in every player.  The work will be put in and results will show!”

Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson shared a similar sentiment when describing the impact Cochran had on his development.

“Coach Cochran helped me become a man at Alabama.  He taught me how to handle adversity, and I still apply the principles he taught me,” Jackson said. “I feel like I was more prepared for the next level because of him.

“In the League, you have to earn it every single day — just like we did in his weight room.  He’s as real as they come.  UGA got a good one.”

Related: Opinion: Hiring Scott Cochran is Kirby Smart’s most aggressive move yet

The news also sent significant shockwaves across the national media landscape, with many agreeing with Herbstreit’s take that this move is a significant one for both Alabama and Georgia.

Many expect Cochran to be an excellent recruiter given his work at Alabama, and that would be in line with the types of assistants Kirby Smart has hired in the past. Georgia also brought in the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the country for this past recruiting cycle and that is with the coaching turnover the Bulldogs had.

Smart addressed how he has dealt with the coaching turnover this offseason as well as how it has shaped the 2020 team.

“It’s part of the process, so you being able to reinvent yourself and be part of the program and develop the players in it is what’s going to set you apart and makes you different,” Smart said earlier in February. “So it’s a work in progress. Constant movement, constant growth. It’s what we’re trying to do.”

Adding to the intrigue of the Cochran hire is that both Georgia and Alabama play each other this season. The two teams meet on Sept. 19, and it will be the first time the two will have played in Tuscaloosa since 2007. That is also the last time Georgia beat Alabama.

Cochran gained a lot of notoriety prior to the 2008 Georgia-Alabama game when he famously said at a Crimson Tide practice that Georgia would be wearing black to its own funeral, referencing Georgia’s black jerseys. In that game, the Bulldogs fell behind 31-0 after halftime before losing 41-30.

Cochran isn’t the first Alabama assistant to leave Saban directly for Smart’s staff as both Glenn Schumann and Mel Tucker followed Smart to Georgia after being hired in December of 2015. But given the impact he had on the program, his departure might be the most impactful since Smart himself left Alabama for Georgia.

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