Georgia coach Kirby Smart was finally able to lure Scott Cochran away from Alabama. But not in the capacity one might expect.
The Bulldogs announced late Monday that Nick Saban’s longtime strength and conditioning coach will replace Scott Fountain as Georgia's special teams coordinator. The news was first reported by Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News, citing sources.
UGA finally made an official announcement Monday about 6:30 p.m. on the program’s Twitter account. It said simply, “Welcome to Athens, Coach Cochran,” and included “special teams coordinator” next to Cochran’s picture.
“Ask anyone who’s been around him, Scott’s passion and energy is contagious,” Smart said via a UGA sports communication release. “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 and Smart have a history. They were close friends as both served on the Alabama staff from the outset of Saban's tenure. Cochran has been the Crimson Tide's strength and conditioning coordinator for 13 years.
Smart tried to convince Cochran to come with him to Georgia when Smart was hired as head coach in 2015 and offered him $500,000 a year to do so, which would have made him the highest-paid strength coach in the country. Saban offered him $600,000 and Cochran remained in Tuscaloosa.
Cochran has been on Saban’s staffs for all six of his national championships, including one at LSU in 2003. Twice he was named national strength coach of the year.
“We appreciate Scott’s contribution to our organization over the last 13 years,” Saban said in a statement released by Alabama Monday. “We can’t thank him enough for his service and dedication to our program, and his commitment to our players. He is taking his career in a new direction, and we wish Scott, Cissy and the kids the best.”
It had been a relatively quiet offseason for the Tide. The only other staff change was defensive line coach Brian Baker being replaced by Freddie Roach.
UGA provided comments from other coaches about Cochran’s potential impact with the Bulldogs, including current Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin, who was offensive coordinator at Alabama for a brief time.
“Scott’s one of the most energetic coaches I have worked with,” Kiffin was quoted as saying. “He developed great relationships with our players while I was at Alabama. I know that he will be successful as he moves on the field with Kirby at Georgia and I believe will be a head coach one day.”
Cochran will inherit a big job with the Bulldogs. Georgia is having to replace Lou Groza Award winner Rodrigo Blankenship at place-kicker, as well as finding a new snapper and punt and kickoff returners.
Cochran replaces Scott Fountain, who followed Sam Pittman to Arkansas. This should complete Smart's on-field staff for the 2020 football season. He also hired Matt Luke as offensive line coach and Todd Monken as offensive coordinator.
Smart has been busy with other off-the-field hires in the meantime. He has brought in Maurice Sims as associate strength coach and Rodney Price and Tersoo Uhaa as assistant strength coaches. The Bulldogs also have added former Southern Miss offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner as well Roderick Ojong and Nathan Bryant as a quality control coordinators. Katherine Turner also joined the Bulldogs’ team as director of recruiting operations earlier this month.
No other salary information was immediately available but should be soon.
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