Alabama’s football staff took a major blow last week when head strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran decided to leave the program to become Georgia’s new special teams coordinator. Coach Nick Saban now must hire a replacement for a staff member who has been with the program for the last 13 years. 

Saban first turned his attention to Manhattan, Kansas and interviewed Chris Dawson for the vacant position. Dawson has been head strength and conditioning coach for Kansas State since 2010, while at Kansas State he has seen 39 players drafted to the NFL with 10 of those players being picked in the first two rounds. 

Dawson played linebacker at Oklahoma and began his coaching career with the Sooners in 1995. He served as a team administrator to the original XFL’s Las Vegas Outlaws for one year before becoming head strength and conditioning coach at the University of Minnesota in 2001. He spent two years with the Gophers and then was hired by the University of Kansas in 2003.  

Dawson was in Tuscaloosa interviewing for the position on Thursday according to’s Matt Zenitiz. 

Saban has reportedly also interviewed and offered the vacant job to Indiana’s David Ballou according to Indiana Hoosiers 247Sports insider Matt Weaver. Ballou is in his third season as Indiana’s director of athletic performance.  

Ballou played fullback in college for Indiana from 1997-99 and then began his strength and conditioning career, coaching at Avon High School for 14 years. While at Avon six teams won Indiana state championships in multiple sports while seven others were finalists. 80 Avon athletes went to Division I schools during his tenure. 

Ballou was a finalist for the 2014 NSCA National High School Strength Coach of the year award. Ballou spent 2015-16 at IMG Academy in Florida, the team finished 21-0 in Ballou’s two seasons as head stregth and conditioning coach. In 2016, 21 of the 22 season-opening starters started the final game of the year.  

Ballou went to Notre Dame in 2017 as the co-director of football strength and conditioning, the Irish went 10-3 in his only year in South Bend. The offensive line for the Irish that season won the Joe Moore award, given to the nation’s best offensive line. Two of his offensive linemen were drafted in the top-10 in the NFL Draft. 

Ballou has now helped the Indiana Hoosiers to its best season (8-5) since 1993. He has helped four Hoosiers become drafted by the NFL, bringing his total to 31 NFL Draft picks in his career.  

Should Ballou join the Crimson Tide it is likely he will bring his co-worker Dr. Matt Rhea to join him. Rhea was head of sports science at IMG from 2016-17 and joined the Indiana staff in 2018. 

Rhea is renowned for his approach to speed training, seeing Indiana’s football team increase its speed by an average of three miles an hour per player. Rhea has earned his doctorate of philosophy in 2004 from Arizona State with an exercise and sports science academic focus and an athletic performance enhancement research focus. He has used that academic background to study speed and revolutionize and personalize his approach to training his athletes to become faster.  

Losing Cochran may be a big blow to the Alabama football program but coach Saban has his eye on qualified candidates that will keep the program on the forefront of athletic training. Keep it locked in with Tide 100.9fm, and the TIDE APP for all your updates on the Alabama Crimson Tide.


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