Lions' Jim Bob Cooter explains the best name in sports
The name. Everyone wants to know about the name.
It's the most unique moniker in sports, like something straight out of a "Dukes of Hazzard" episode. And in a matter of four days, it has made Jim Bob Cooter the most recognizable offensive coordinator in the NFL.
"I mean, that's just -- I didn't make a conscious decision," Cooter said when asked about the origins of his name. "I think maybe my parents were really into marketing, so we were trying to sell some T-shirts from an early age."
Cooter -- his full name is James Robert Cooter -- was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator Monday, after the Detroit Lions fired Joe Lombardi and two other offensive assistants.
And while his name went viral, sparking plenty of Twitter jokes and a mention on Katie Nolan's "Garbage Time," Cooter has been known as Jim Bob forever.
He played under the name in high school at Lincoln County High in Fayetteville, Tenn. He stuck with it as a walk-on at the University of Tennessee. And he hasn't wavered while climbing the coaching ranks, from graduate assistant at Tennessee to NFL jobs with the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Lions.
"I haven't really thought about branding, any of that stuff just yet," Cooter joked today, after the Lions wrapped up preparations for Sunday's International Series game against the Kansas City Chiefs (9:30 a.m., Fox). "It seemed to be OK. But as I move around, I've been in a couple different cities at this point, it certainly -- the farther north or west you get, away from the Southeast, it tends to get a little extra scare. So maybe I give a different name when I'm waiting on my sandwich or whatever that whole thing is, just to save that one."
Several Lions players said they got a kick out of Cooter's name after he joined Jim Caldwell's coaching staff last year.
"I laughed the first time I heard it," tight end Eric Ebron said. "You're supposed to laugh. I'm not used to that southern kind of name, three last names or whatnot. But that's Jim Bob, man. That's his name. We're going to rock with it."
Quarterback Matthew Stafford, not sure whether to call him "Jim" or "Bob" or "Jim Bob," said he asked Cooter how to address him, and "Jim Bob" was the answer.
"I thought it was awesome," Stafford said. "It's quality stuff. You can't make it up. It was good. I had a laugh, but I respect the name now, for sure."
Cooter has earned plenty of respect across the NFL.
At 31, he's one of the youngest coordinators in the league. And while he declined to get into specifics about what the Lions' offense will look like under his command, he said he has no plans to mess with the name that has gotten him this far.
"It is what it is," Cooter said. "I'm from Tennessee and I'm from pretty southern Tennessee. I mean, it's on down there pretty good. There's a lot of people with two names. A lot of spaces out there in my classroom growing up."
Lions' O won't change much, but maybe more deep balls?
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.
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