Why Scott Cochran Really Left Alabama, Nick Saban For Georgia
Why did Scott Cochran really leave Alabama and Nick Saban for a position as the special teams coordinator at Georgia? The answer boils down to personal growth.
Recently, ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit sat down with fellow ESPN insider Paul Finebaum to discuss the move. In his estimation, the decision simply was the result of wanting more than the Crimson Tide were prepared to offer him.
“I think one thing people need to keep in mind, Scott did such a good job of the branding of who he is and what Alabama’s strength program is,” he said.
“They’ve gone out and recruited high level players and bringing them in and a big part of their development is Scott Cochran.
“In his own mind, he wanted to go,” Herbstreit continued.
“He said hey ‘I want to get on the field and coach’. It seems like this has been going on for awhile. Saban did not necessarily look at that as an option. He said hey ‘you’re great in your lane and we prefer to keep you there.’
“Once Kirby (Smart) left (Alabama), I think it set the wheels in motion even though he kept doing a good job with the strength program and I think he was vying for a way to get on the field as a coach and maybe one day become a head coach.”
The reality is, if Cochran ever wanted to be something more than just a strength and conditioning coach, a move like this was inevitable.
Nobody becomes a head coach off just being a strength and conditioning guy. Conversely, we have seen multiple examples at both the collegiate and professional levels of guys becoming head coaches following stints as special teams coordinators.
At the very worst, it at least provides jump-off point to better coordinator positions down the line.
“You have to get on the field,” Herbstreit continued.
“I think that’s been a goal of his. When he went to Saban and let him know…you know we love you and we would love to have you here, but we don’t want to hold you back if this is something you want to do.”
Herbstreit also believes that both Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and Cochran have thought this decision through in terms of what it will mean for the Bulldogs.
“I think the biggest thing you have to realize, when you first look at it, you think Scott Cochran is going to take what he knows in Tuscaloosa to Athens, but no, Kirby has a great strength coach,” he said.
“I’m sure Kirby has a plan with what he wants to do. The way the special teams worked (20-30 years ago), other coaches had special teams responsibilities.
“A position coach would have one of those teams and it’s become such an important part of the NFL game. But now the college game, where you have these guys who are special teams coordinators.
“He’s studying film 12 months out of the year on just special teams. In the college game in the last 5-6 years, it’s very very different.”
Saban’s reaction to Cochran’s departure has not been great. He reportedly banned him from saying goodbye to any of the players and did not give him a particularly ringing endorsement through the media.
The break-up was a taxing one, clearly.
Part of that, no doubt, is because of how long the pair has worked together. Cochran has been around for each of Saban’s six championships with LSU and Alabama. That is a long partnership. And to have it end with one guy going to work for a rival – that understandably drudges up some negative emotions.
Will Cochran ultimately be successful in Georgia? Time will tell. But is this a move he had to make if he wanted to grow personally and professionally? Absolutely.