Update: Both schools have now confirmed the move. Cochran will be Georgia’s special teams coordinator.
“We appreciate Scott’s contribution to our organization over the last 13 years,” Nick Saban said in a statement. “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. As we do with every position that opens here, we will go out and hire the best person to lead our strength and conditioning program and help our players maximize the resources available in our new sports science facility.”
“Ask anyone who’s been around him, Scott’s passion and energy is contagious,” Kirby 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.”
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) February 24, 2020
In the excellent HBO documentary aired last fall, Nick Saban and Bill Belichick spent time lamenting how their many, many assistants try to build their new operations by hiring away the foot soldiers that helped build the dynasties that catapulted the newly-hired head coaches into those jobs in the first place.
In light of that, we present this: according to Tuscaloosa News beat writer Cecil Hurt, longtime Alabama strength coach Scott Cochran is leaving Tuscaloosa for an on-the-field coaching job at Georgia.
This is not the first time a former Saban assistant has come for Cochran. As we wrote amid reports Lane Kiffin made a run at Cochran in December:
Cochran is widely viewed as the most important staff member in Tuscaloosa other than The Man himself, joining Saban’s staff as the strength and conditioning coach in 2007 and remaining in place ever since. In fact, Cochran is the only Alabama staff member still in the same role dating back to Saban’s 2007 hiring outside of Saban. He also makes $595,000 at Alabama, fifth highest among strength coaches in all of college football.
Cochran and his gravelly, always-cranked-to-11 voice have built a brand such that his Twitter account has topped 62,000 followers and he’s appeared in local commercials opposite Saban.
So central a figure was Cochran — and such an ironic move this is — to Alabama’s dynasty is that Cochran more or less announced its arrival. This 2008 video taken before then-No. 8 Alabama visited No. 3 Georgia for a black-out game, where Cochran proclaimed Georgia was wearing black jerseys the upcoming Saturday night because “they’re going to a m———-ing funeral.”
Alabama won the game 41-30 en route to an undefeated regular season, while Georgia, the preseason No. 1 team, failed to win the SEC East.
If completed, this would be the second major off-the-field figure Kirby Smart has pilfered away from Saban, following Glenn Schumann, a director of player development who sources said was a key game-planning figure at Alabama who followed Smart to Georgia as inside linebackers coach.
It’s not immediately clear where Cochran fits on Smart’s on-the-field staff, though Georgia does have an opening. An original member of Saban’s Alabama staff, Cochran has worked entirely in the strength field since graduating from LSU in 2001. He first worked for Saban as a graduate assistant in LSU’s strength department before he was promoted to assistant strength coach. Cochran spent 2004-06 working for the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets before returning to college football to work for Saban in Tuscaloosa in 2007.
Scott Cochran, the longtime strength and conditioning coach for @AlabamaFTBL is expected — barring a last-minute change — to leave UA for an on-field coaching position at Georgia per sources. More to come at @tidesports
— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) February 24, 2020
To date, no former assistant has ever beaten Saban on the field, and none has ever built a program that can topple Saban’s Crimson Dynasty — though none has come closer than Smart.
On the field, Smart’s Bulldogs built double-digit leads over Alabama in the 2017 national title game and the 2018 SEC Championship before succumbing to off-the-bench comebacks led by Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts.
On the whole, Smart’s program is 36-7 (22-5 SEC) with one SEC title, three SEC East crowns, three New Year’s Six appearances and three AP Top 10 finishes since 2017. Georgia’s 2020 team will consist of recruiting classes that ranked No. 3, No. 1, No. 2 and No. 1 nationally, plus Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman at quarterback. (Alabama finished No. 1, No. 5, No. 1 and No. 2 over that span.)
Georgia is scheduled to visit Bryant-Denny Stadium on Sept. 19, the Bulldogs’ first visit to Tuscaloosa since 2007.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.