SEC football notebook: Georgia, Alabama announce staff changes

AP file photo by Lynne Sladky / Georgia football coach Kirby Smart announced two departures and one addition to his staff Wednesday.
AP file photo by Lynne Sladky / Georgia football coach Kirby Smart announced two departures and one addition to his staff Wednesday.

ATHENS, Ga. — The University of Georgia football program has a new special teams coordinator after more staff changes announced Wednesday by Kirby Smart, who is preparing for his ninth season as head coach at his alma mater.

Kirk Benedict, a special teams analyst for the Bulldogs the past two seasons, has been promoted to replace Scott Cochran.

In a news release announcing the changes, Smart said Cochran and offensive analyst Darrell Dickey both resigned to pursue other opportunities.

The 44-year-old Cochran, a former strength coach at Alabama, moved to Georgia in 2020 for an on-field position. He took a leave of absence ahead of the 2021 season to deal with his mental health before rejoining Smart's staff after the first seven games that fall.

The 64-year-old Dickey spent one season at Georgia after five years as the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. He is a former head coach at North Texas.

"I want to thank Scott and Darrell for their contributions to Georgia football," Smart said in the release. "We wish them all the best moving forward."

This was the latest round of coaching changes for the Bulldogs, who are coming off a 13-1 season in which they missed the College Football Playoff for the first time since the 2020 season, having won back-to-back national championships before falling short in their bid for a third consecutive crown.

Defensive backs coach Fran Brown left to become the head coach at Syracuse, and co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp moved down to an analyst role to spend more time with his family, including Baylor School quarterback Whit Muschamp, a Vanderbilt signee.

Bama staff changes

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama coach Kalen DeBoer has retained and promoted assistants Freddie Roach and Robert Gillespie, respectively.

DeBoer announced Wednesday that Roach, the Crimson Tide's defensive line coach, will serve as associate head coach. Gillespie will remain as running backs coach with the added title of assistant head coach.

Both assistants worked under DeBoer's predecessor, Nick Saban, who retired last month after 17 seasons in Tuscaloosa and six national championships. DeBoer led Washington to a national runner-up finish this past season before leaving the Huskies to lead the Tide.

"After meeting both of these guys, it was very clear to me that keeping Freddie and G as part of the staff was going to be important to our success," DeBoer said in a news release. "These guys have great relationships with our players, are outstanding recruiters and have proven to be some of the best coaches in the country."

Roach played for Alabama and has spent the past four seasons as a Tide assistant. Gillespie is approaching his fourth season in Tuscaloosa.

The financial terms are awaiting approval by the Univeristy of Alabama System's Board of Trustees.

Two of DeBoer's former Washington assistants who had followed him to Tuscaloosa, offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb and offensive line coach Scott Huff, left this week for the same jobs with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

New OC for UK

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The University of Kentucky has hired former Boise State assistant Bush Hamdan as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after Liam Coen's departure to the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Hamdan, 38, is a 15-year coaching veteran who returns to the Southeastern Conference, having previously worked at Florida (2012) and Missouri (2020-22). He also spent one season in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons (2017). Hamdan spent last season at his alma mater and has also coached at Arkansas State, Colorado, Davidson, Maryland and Washington.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said he has followed Hamdan's career and was impressed with his work under Steve Sarkisian — the current Texas coach whose Washington staff included Hamdan — and Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz.

Stoops, who is in his 12th year leading the Wildcats, called Hamdan a "rising star" in a release Wednesday and said he was excited to bring him to Lexington.

Hamdan in turn said he admired Stoops and how he has built the program, adding in the release that it's "an exciting time to be at Kentucky and be back in the SEC. I can't wait to get started."

Boise State finished second in the Mountain West Conference in scoring offense (32.1 points per game) and total offense (436.1 yards) this past season. The Broncos tied for the MWC regular-season title before beating UNLV in the league championship game and playing in the L.A. Bowl.

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