Kirby Smart is handling rejection well, at least publicly.
Smart, who was named UGA’s head football coach earlier this month, had only positive remarks about his soon-to-be former co-worker, Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran. When Smart was hired away from Alabama, he was expected to bring the well-respected Cochran to Athens, Ga. However, Cochran eventually denied Smart’s advances and decided to remain with the Crimson Tide.
“I’m happy for Scott,” Smart told AL.com’s John Talty. “Scott’s got a great opportunity to stay at a great place. Scott and I are good family friends. I’m happy for Scott. That’s a decision he had to make.”
After pulling in a reported $420,000 in 2015, Cochran is expected to receive a pay raise for his loyalty.
Smart is still the defensive coordinator for Alabama throughout the remainder of the College Football Playoff. Then, he’ll take over full-time for UGA. Smart said he will focus on his UGA coaching staff after the playoff run is complete. Second-ranked Alabama plays No. 3 Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl on Thursday at 8 p.m. EST.