Kirby Smart believes Scott Cochran is 'outstanding' in the key areas he uses to evaluate assistant coaches
Scott Cochran’s decision to leave Alabama for Georgia caused a tidal wave of reactions across the SEC but perhaps the most interesting aspect of the longtime Crimson Tide strength coach’s move was the fact that he landed a position on Kirby Smart’s 10-man assistant coaching staff.
Clearly, that’s was an opportunity Nick Saban was not interested in extending Cochran’s way, which may have explained why the former strength coach left Tuscaloosa in the middle of Alabama’s conditioning period leading up to spring football.
So what was it about Cochran that made Smart pull the trigger on the inexperienced assistant coach?
“Scott and I have had a relationship for a long time and when I think good coaches, I think of guys that can relate to players,” Smart shared during a Tuesday teleconference. “I’ve always judged coaches by two qualities: What is his ability to make players want to play for him and his relationship… do players want to run through the brick wall for their coach? Do they respect their coach? Do they want to play hard for their coach?
“Can he relate to them in a personal way, and get them to do something that maybe another coach can’t? Does that separate them? And then their ability to recruit. And both those two things, the nine years I was at Alabama, he was outstanding at.”
Based on that response, Georgia is willing to live with any learning curve Cochran may have on the field but with the expectations incredibly high in Athens, how long will Smart allow his new assistant to learn on the job?
According to Smart, Georgia is armed with so many assistants with special teams experience that Cochran’s inexperience shouldn’t hurt the Bulldogs in 2020.
“He was always involved in some way, shape or form with special teams. That’s always been something, even dating back to when I was at LSU, he was a kind of a quality control guy at LSU that worked special teams,” Smart said of Cochran. “So his background has been around that. And we certainly have a staff, full of guys, Glenn Schumann, Dan Lanning, Todd Hartley, Cortez (Hankton), Dell (McGee), Charlton (Warren) have all had special teams duties in their career. So, this is not a, Scott Cochran is the only special teams guy on our staff, we have an immense amount of knowledge and experience in special teams, and they’ll draw on that.”
In addition to all those voices, Smart still has a heavy hand when it comes to his program’s special teams. To think he’d let the unit fall apart under first-year special teams coordinator Cochran seems unlikely.
“Scott will be the special teams coordinator, but we’ll use the entire staff to help with that,” Smart concluded. “We got quality control guys who do a great job coaching our coaches, and then I’m involved with special teams and always have been and always will be, because I think it’s a really important part. So the big part was just hiring Scott we felt like that he brought a lot to the table, in terms of the entire organization.”