Georgia special teams coach Scott Cochran is normally very enthusiastic and excited. Whether it be on gamedays or even during media sessions, it’s very easy to see why his name is synonymous with high energy and intensity.
However, there was one question Cochran, who spoke with the media on Friday, was not exactly happy about reliving.
In 2008, Cochran was in his second season as Alabama’s strength and conditioning coach. The Crimson Tide had a 7-6 record in Nick Saban’s first season but thumped No. 9 Clemson in the season opener 34-10. Alabama entered its fifth game of the season ranked No. 8 in the country, where it faced off against the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs.
Georgia had made it known that it would be wearing its black jerseys, which it wore against Auburn and Hawaii the season before, both victories over highly-ranked teams.
So Cochran, then a 29-year old strength coach at the time made a remark during Alabama’s practice that the Bulldogs were wearing black to their own funeral. What Cochran didn’t plan on was being captured on camera and then broadcast over the internet.
Overnight, Cochran went from little known strength coach to viral star.
And it frightened the normally fearless coach.
“In reality, in that moment it was kind of make or break,” Cochran said. “Wasn’t planning on it becoming public at all. But at the same time when it did, I was scared to death.
“Whoooooooo. I thought I was going to lose my job.”
Cochran added that his fellow coaches had told him that he’d just given Georgia some extra motivation when there was no need to do so.
Georgia though did not play like it was motivated by Cochran’s comments. Alabama roared out to a 31-0 halftime lead before coasting to a 41-30 road win over the Bulldogs.
Cochran had been hoping to avoid the subject altogether, given most of the current players on Georgia’s roster weren’t even teenagers yet when he made the comment back in 2008.
As Alabama’s climbed to the top of the college football world, Cochran continued to become more and more recognizable as perhaps the college football’s top strength and conditioning coach.
He served in the role for 13 seasons before joining Georgia’s staff this offseason, though in an on-field coaching role. For the first time in his coaching career, he’s moved out of the weight room to being Georgia’s special teams coordinator.
Cochran’s new role will also allow him to recruit on the road, something he looks forward to doing once COVID comes to an end and the NCAA lifts the dead period.
While Cochran did acknowledge there are some difficulties with the transition to the on-field role, he’s still managing to bring that same infectious energy to the Georgia players, even outside the weight room.
“He’s got energy all day. Forget the practice field. I’m talking about in the hallways he’s energetic,” Georgia offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer said. “He’s got that voice that just cranks you up when you hear it. He does everything full go. He brings a whole new level of spirit to the team. He looks at things a different way.
“When you can find something wrong with a situation, he’s always going to find the best thing about it. ”
As for why Cochran made the choice that he did to leave Alabama for Georgia, it wasn’t because he was motivated to prove Saban that he could in fact be an on-field coach. He made it clear that he still has a tremendous amount of respect for the man he worked with for 18 years.
He just wanted a chance to get on the field and do so with Kirby Smart, someone he also has a very strong relationship with.
“For me, I want to work for coach Smart. I want to work with somebody that I see eye to eye with on the same things,” Cochran said. “And I see the same things with coach Saban. Obviously I wouldn’t be where I am without him.
“But with coach Smart I feel like there’s a big emphasis with some things that I’m big on.”