One of the most important assistants to Nick Saban has been poached from Alabama by Kirby Smart and Georgia. Scott Cochran, who had been with ‘Bama since Saban took over in 2007, and coached under him at LSU as the ever-important strength and conditioning coach, is making the jump.
The strength coach is often cited as one of the most important people on staff, thanks to the day-to-day access to players they have. However, Cochran is making a big move in duties with his job change. He’ll be the special teams coordinator for the Bulldogs. Saban admitted that he didn’t see Cochran taking a step to on-field coaching at Alabama, so a move was necessary for him to do so.
“This is a SIGNIFICANT loss for Bama and ridiculous coup by Kirby and UGA! Is this the first sign of a ‘changing of the guard’ in the SEC???” ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit tweeted after the news came down on Monday. Some took this message as a bit alarmist.
Herbstreit doesn’t want to totally ring alarm bells about Alabama. He followed up a question about his tweet, saying that he “never” implies that Saban and his program are slipping. He also says that he hopes that Alabama doesn’t start to slip in the next few years. “I hope it’s not – love Bama and Saban – and hope it lasts as long as possible.”
I’ve been one of the few to never imply that end was nearing over the years for Bama or Nick-my comment was losing Scott is real. And simply asking if this is beginning of a few cracks. I hope it’s not-love Bama and Saban-and hope it lasts as long as possible. https://t.co/Pism50Enmf
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) February 25, 2020
Given Saban’s stance, the move makes sense for Scott Cochran, but this is still going to be seen as a big blow dealt by Georgia to Alabama. Smart has probably been the most successful coach from the Saban tree in recreating what he’s done in Tuscaloosa, and now he has one of Saban’s longtime top lieutenants under him.
The longtime strength coach has been with Saban for all six of his national championships, at both LSU and Alabama. He also spent some time in the NBA, serving on the strength team for the New Orleans Hornets.
Cochran is a two-time national strength coach of the year. We’ll see how those skills translate to an on-field role, and specifically in working with Georgia’s special teamers.