It would be interesting to see how many Alabama fans knew the name Kalen DeBoer before this season. I would love to see the numbers from a month and a half ago. It took all of two days for the Crimson Tide to find a replacement for Nick Saban, which felt quick, but with players rushing to the transfer portal, speed was essential.
Perhaps, just perhaps, DeBoer should have taken a break. Three seasons ago, he was coaching at Fresno State, and the West Coast, let alone the Pacific Northwest, is a different universe from Tuscaloosa. No judgment, but here are DeBoer’s famous last words.
„I’ve always had tremendous respect for football in Alabama and its commitment to excellence,“ said DeBoer in a statement. „The storied history of this program is unique in the collegiate sports landscape and I look forward to continuing that in the future. It’s an honor to follow Coach Saban. He has been the benchmark in college football, and his success is unparalleled. I wouldn’t have left Washington for just any school. The chance to lead the University of Alabama football program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My family and I feel truly blessed and are excited to become part of the Tuscaloosa community.“
This is a suicide mission. I have no idea what it’s like to follow George Carlin or Richard Pryor at the height of their comedic powers, but DeBoer will be able to answer that question in a year. There will be no patience for on-the-job training. It’s either a College Football Playoff or bust.
Apart from Saban’s first year in Alabama, he only lost three games once. In every other season, the Tide was a T-1000 that you had to shoot with a grenade launcher and dunk into a vat of magma to kill. There were people, including Paul Finebaum, who wanted to write off Alabama after the loss to Texas and whatever that was against South Florida in September.
The Tide won the SEC and displaced the consecutive national champion Bulldogs.
All in all – and this should be enough to grant any candidate a break of at least 72 hours – the hiring makes sense for several reasons. First, DeBoer has little to no baggage. Tide fans have seen and beaten just about every major coach in the SEC, and since they didn’t lure away Georgia’s Kirby Smart or Tennessee’s Josh Heupel, finding a coach with ties to the region that the fanbase wouldn’t immediately judge as a father meeting his daughter’s first boyfriend was impossible.
Second is the time factor. The longer a coaching search drags on, the less confidence it breeds inside and outside the program. Right now, Alabama’s best asset is the infrastructure left by Saban, but that can disappear after a few transfer windows with the current portal rules.
Recruit-renetrement of the current roster includes steps 1 through 3, starting with retaining Jalen Milroe’s favorite target, Isaiah Bond, and Milroe himself.
The final reason I don’t hate this is that DeBoer expects to win. He has won at every stop, so he enters with a positive, if slightly ignorant, attitude. However, it will take years and at least one national title for Kalen DeBoer to truly „become part of the Tuscaloosa community,“ and I hope he’s okay with that.
Big Loss for Washington and the Big Ten
I won’t go into the differences between Washington and Alabama, because you’re not a bunch of idiots. The next head coach of the Huskies faces hardly any plug-and-play, as Michael Penix and his cadre of receivers head to the NFL.
Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk, and Jalen McMillan have all declared this week, so the Big Ten doesn’t even get a cheap imitation of the CFP runner-up. It will be fascinating to see which direction UW goes, as many big names have just turned down Alabama. I’m not sure if Steve Sarkisian would be welcomed in Seattle, or if Dan Lanning would move to a rival, and Lane Kiffin has a superiority complex that compels him to stay in the SEC. It’s either a depressing overhaul or an unproven, unknown coordinator.
And just when the Big Ten thought they were finally on par with their Cold War rival. Isn’t that something special?