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Alabama Selects Kalen DeBoer from Washington as New Head Coach to Succeed Nick Saban

By Christopher Kamrani, Bruce Feldman, Kennington Smith III and Chris Vannini

The man chosen to succeed the greatest college football coach in the history of the sport is from rural South Dakota, who certainly some Crimson Tide fanatics have never heard of. At least until the last 72 hours.
Kalen DeBoer, known within the industry as both a program builder and excavator, told his staff at Washington he’s accepting an offer from Alabama for Nick Saban’s former coaching job, team sources confirmed Friday. DeBoer met with his Washington team Friday afternoon to explain why he’s making the move, the sources said.
News of the hire was officially announced by Alabama on Friday evening.

“Following coach Saban is an honor,” DeBoer said in a school statement. “He has been the standard for college football, and his success is unprecedented. I would not have left Washington for just any school. The chance to lead the football program at the University of Alabama is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

DeBoer, 49, went 25-3 in two years at Washington, leading the Huskies out of the frustrations of a 4-8 campaign under a previous coaching regime in 2021. Saban, who won six national championships while in charge of the program, shocked the sporting world Wednesday afternoon when it was announced he was retiring at the age of 72.

DeBoer, Washington and its revitalized fan base were not even 48 hours removed from the heartbreak of a 34-13 loss to Michigan in the College Football Playoff national championship Monday night in Houston.

“Kalen DeBoer has been an outstanding leader of our football program and what he accomplished in two seasons on Montlake will forever be a part of our storied history,” Washington athletic director Troy Dannen said. “We are sad to see him leave and we did all that we could to keep Kalen at UW.”

While the pool of candidates to replace Saban ranged from former trusted assistants like Texas’ Steve Sarkisian to those groomed under him like Oregon’s Dan Lanning, the list was slowly whittled down throughout the swift process undertaken by Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne.

On Thursday morning, Lanning — a former graduate assistant under Saban — announced on social media he was staying in Eugene. Sarkisian is close to finalizing a contract extension to stay with Texas.

Eventually, it came down to DeBoer, Florida State head coach Mike Norvell and Alabama offensive coordinator Tommy Rees. Earlier Friday, Norvell and FSU agreed to a new deal.

In DeBoer, Byrne went with what some might perceive to be an unconventional hire, a man who has never coached in the SEC. At some point this fall, DeBoer hired college football coaching superagent Jimmy Sexton who represents a majority of coaches in the SEC, including Saban.

Coach DeBoer has proven he is a winner and has done an incredible job as a head coach at each of his stops,” Byrne said Friday. “One of the things I told our team the other day is we are going to get someone who is not only a great coach with the Xs and Os, but also someone who cares about his players and someone I’d want my sons to play for, just like I would have wanted them to play for Coach Saban. We got that in Coach DeBoer.”

As seen in the last two days, several dominoes needed to tip in the direction of Byrne going all the way to Seattle to find his Saban successor.

There will be no rebuild or extraction from the depths for DeBoer in Tuscaloosa. This is strictly a contend-for-and-win national titles every single year operation he faces. At Washington, DeBoer installed an offense that became the most entertaining in the sport in 2023….


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