When Kirby Smart first came to Georgia as the head coach, he badly wanted to bring famed Alabama strength coach Scott Cochran with him. Cochran has long been regarded as one of the best in the country at what he does and is beloved by players.
But Alabama paid Cochran handsomely, making him the highest-paid strength coach in the country. But now Smart has convinced Cochran to join him, as multiple reports indicate that he will be leaving Alabama for Georgia. And he will be doing so for Georgia’s open on-field coaching role. The news was first reported by Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News.
The Georgia football Twitter account officially confirmed the news.
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) February 24, 2020
Smart issued an official statement on the matter as well.
“Ask anyone who’s been around him, Scott’s passion and energy is contagious,” said Smart. “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.”
Cochran has been a part of the Alabama machine dating back to when Saban first arrived in Tuscaloosa prior to the 2007 season. He had served as the strength coach for his entire tenure and earned $595,000 in 2019.
Georgia had a vacancy due to James Coley departing for Texas A&M. Coley had been replaced by Todd Monken as the offensive coordinator for Georgia. Coley had also served as the quarterbacks coach for Georgia. The Bulldogs also saw special teams coordinator Scott Fountain depart for a similar for Arkansas.
Smart has been accused of copying the Alabama program before. He brought Glenn Schumann and Mel Tucker over from the Crimson Tide staff upon his arrival. But this latest Alabama-related hire goes deeper than that.
This is a clear poaching from the Alabama staff. And given the integral role Cochran has played in the Alabama program, this could be a critical blow to the Alabama program, who has most often foiled Georgia’s championship dreams.
The move caught a number of players and media types, such as former Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson off guard.
Damn Kirby, you tryna steal all da sauce? Lol https://t.co/bOZrawRHgx
— Cam. (@crobinson_68) February 24, 2020
Cochran also is well known for his role in the 2008 Alabama-Georgia game. For that game, Georgia came out wearing black jerseys. In an effort to hype up his Alabama team during practice that week, Cochran remarked that the Bulldogs were going to wear black to their own funeral. In that game, Alabama jumped out to a 31-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 41-30 victory.
The move for Smart is not without some risk, as Cochran has never severed as an on-field coach. He’ll be tasked with new responsibilities, as well as being a recruiter for the program.
And it’s not like the Georgia coaching staff needed another excellent recruiter, given the Bulldogs just signed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country even when dealing with the departures of Coley, Fountain and offensive line coach Sam Pittman.
But Smart knows Cochran very well, dating back to their time together at Alabama. Given how the hirings of Dan Lanning, Schumann and tight ends coach Todd Hartley have worked out so far, Smart has shown that he can identify quality assistant coaches.
Alabama has been the most successful college football program of the past decade. They’ve taken elite high school players and developed them into elite NFL prospects. Cochran played a key role in that process as the strength and conditioning coach.
He’ll play a new and different role if and when Georgia officially announces him as part of the program.
Smart had other options to fill the on-field assistant role with, such as former Southern Miss offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner, who joined the program earlier this offseason. Faulkner has more experience with the quarterback position, and given the struggles the Georgia offense had last season, another strong offensive mind couldn’t hurt.
Perhaps more importantly though, it’s another highly successful assistant coach that’s been hired away from Alabama. The Crimson Tide defense hasn’t been the same since Jeremy Pruitt left to become the head coach at Tennessee.
It is fair to wonder what kind of effect this will have on the Crimson Tide program as well as what kind of gain he will bring to Georgia. And given Georgia and Alabama open SEC play against each other on Sept. 19, we might learn very quickly what type of impact this hire ultimately has.
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