Scott Cochran Leaving Alabama for Georgia
The University of Alabama football offseason was shook up Monday with the players told that strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran is leaving the Crimson Tide.
Cochran is heading to Georgia to work for long-term friend Kirby Smart and try his hand as a position coach. He's expected to be named special-teams coordinator, but also be directly involved in recruiting.
“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.”
Cochran's departure from Alabama was initially reported by Bruce Feldman of The Athletic and Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News. Saban subsequently confirmed the move to ESPN:
"Scott did a really good job for us here and was a big part of our success, but he was looking for a new career path. He wanted to get on to the field coaching and would like one day, I think, to be a head coach. We didn't really have anything here to offer him along those lines, and Georgia did. I understand him wanting to take on that path.
"As good as Scott was for us here as our head strength coach, it's probably best for him and best for us if he's able to do there at Georgia what he wants to do now with his career."
Smart initially tried to take Cochran with him when hired by his alma mater in December 2015, only the strength coach decided to stay around. Part of his reasoning was that he wasn't vested in the state retirement system yet, which takes 10 years of service.
Cochran also received a significant raise for not departing. He went from making $420,000 annually to $525,000. Last season he was one of nation's highest-paid strength and conditioning coaches at $595,000.
His initial salary at Alabama was $120,000. There's no word yet on what he'll make at Georgia.
Cochran has been one of the few longstanding staples of the Saban era at Alabama, which dates back to 2007.
More than a local celebrity, Cochran became a Crimson Tide icon despite not officially being the coaching staff (although Saban always treated him as such.
“YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH,” had become his trademark call, with the volume only surpassed by its intensity. Alabama even blasts it during games to fire up the crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
In addition to overseeing the Crimson Tide's weight room and notable Fourth Quarter offseason conditioning program, Cochran managed to stand out in numerous ways. Among them:
He smashed Alabama's runner-up trophy from the national championship game to try and motivate players. One of his more famous slogans was captured during the filming of a documentary, "If it feels good, you aren't doing it right."
During Alabama's 2008 season, Cochran was overheard during Alabama's stretching telling players that Georgia's upcoming blackout at Sanford Stadium—which meant fans were asked to wear black as a unified show of support against the Crimson Tide—was because they were going to a funeral.
It turned out that Cochran was right. Alabama crushed the No. 3 Bulldogs, who had been preseason No. 1, but reporters were never allowed to video the stretching part of practice again.
Cochran, who had the title of Assistant Athletic Director and Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, initially joined the Alabama staff in 2007 after spending three seasons with the New Orleans Hornets of the NBA as an assistant strength coach.
Cochran was on Nick Saban’s staff for all six national titles, as he served as an assistant at LSU in 2003.
Part of his duties at Alabama was overseeing Alabama's conversion into the 37,000-square-foot weight room.
“I think in my position it’s all about getting them today in and day out bring their best,” Cochran said in an exclusive interview a few years ago. “It doesn’t matter what sport it is or what exercise you’re doing. I think when it comes down to it, my job is to get them to bring their A-game, so when Coach Saban needs their A-game in a football game they’ve done it so many times that it’s normal. It’s an attitude. Mental toughness is built from every day bringing their best.
“I have a 100-some players and I have to get every ounce of energy every day when they walk through the door.”
Cochran's always been the one on the Alabama sideline holding up four fingers and jumping up and down through the entire fourth quarter of every game.
“He’s just passionate,” said wide receiver Julio Jones, who went on to be the sixth-overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft. “The man comes to work every day ready to go. He’s just passionate about being here, about helping players achieve their full potential.”
“He’s intense,” said junior defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, the No. 3 pick in 2011. “He makes you work hard even when you don’t feel like working.”
A lot of former players regularly come back to Tuscaloosa during the offseason to train.
“I’m a strength coach,” he said. “I wear shorts and a sweatshirt or a T-shirt to work every single day. I’m changing lives. I don’t know, I can’t explain it but to me people get in their car and they’re going to work, I feel like I’m in my car and on my way to the playground like when I was a kid. I feel like I’m going to swing on the monkey bars.
“My job requires a lot of energy, but realistically if I don’t have it how do I expect a player to have it?”
Although Cochran had been a daily part of Alabama's practices for 11 years, he's never held an on-field coaching position before.
Prior to joining the Hornets staff, Cochran worked for his alma mater Louisiana State as an assistant strength coach in 2003. He was a graduate assistant in Baton Rouge from 2001-03.
He started his career in the strength and conditioning field at University Laboratory High School in Baton Rouge, La. He held that position from 1998-2001 before returning to LSU as a graduate assistant for all sports from 2001-03. Cochran then was hired on to the full-time staff for the 2003-04 season.
He was named the Samson Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2011.