Jim Bob Cooter knows his name is different to you if you’re not from the Southeast. The Detroit Lions offensive coordinator embraces it. He’s comfortable with it.
It’s what his parents, Lance and Ellen Cooter, named him -- James Robert Cooter -- when he was born in 1984. And as it is in the South, many people go by more than one name. Often, they’ll go by nicknames. So by the time Cooter was the quarterback at Lincoln County High School in Fayetteville, Tennessee, James Robert Cooter became more comfortable and familiar to everyone as a much shorter name -- one that has caught the attention of the NFL this week: Jim Bob Cooter.
“If you live in the South, a lot of people name their kids two names,” Cooter’s high school coach, Louis Thompson, said. “It was just unique that it was James Robert, you know, Jim Bob, and then with a last name like Cooter, that just, it just stands out.”
Cooter has always gone by Jim Bob, but when Thompson wanted to hammer home a point in practice, he would call Cooter “James Robert” instead -- drawing a deadpan look and silence instead of Cooter’s typically laid-back nature.
And Cooter, who was elevated from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator of the 1-6 Lions on Monday, is comfortable with it all.
“I didn’t make a conscious decision. I think maybe my parents were really into marketing so we were trying to sell some T-shirts from an early age,” Cooter told reporters in England on Friday. “It is what it is. I’m from Tennessee and I’m from pretty southern Tennessee, it’s on down there pretty good."
As the former University of Tennessee quarterback moved around from Indianapolis to Denver and now Detroit, he noticed his dual first name caught others by surprise. He’s never considered changing it, though.
“Haven’t really thought about branding any of that stuff just yet. It seemed to be OK,” Cooter said. “As I moved around, been in a couple different cities at this point, the farther north or west or whatever, 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.”
Don’t expect him to change much, though. It’s how Cooter has always been known and it’s worked for him so far, as he’s now one of the youngest offensive coordinators in the NFL.