Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer is in negotiations to become Alabama’s next head football coach, per Mark Schlabach and Chris Low of ESPN. DeBoer is fresh off a successful 14-1 season with the Huskies, where he led them to the Pac-12 Championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship. If he is hired, he will replace legendary head coach Nick Saban, who announced his retirement on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Washington AD Troy Dannen has already been working on a contract extension to keep DeBoer in Seattle.
DeBoer increased his national profile this season when leading the Huskies to the national title game and his name was immediately thrown out as a top candidate for the Crimson Tide opening once Saban stepped down. Washington boasted one of the more electric offenses in the sport this season with Heisman Trophy finalist Michael Penix Jr. throwing to dynamic receivers in Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk, and Jalen McMillan. The team was also bolstered by an offensive line that ended up taking him the Joe Moore Award for the nation’s best line.
DeBoer’s head coaching experience spans back nearly two decades, where he won three NAIA Championships with Sioux Falls in the late 2000’s. He then spent the next decade bouncing around Division I as an offensive coordinator before landing the head coaching job at Fresno State in 2020. He’d lead the Bulldogs to a 9-3 record in 2021 with future NFL draft pick Jake Haener running the show at quarterback. That was enough for Washington to poach him as its next head coach the following year.
If DeBoer ultimately accepts the job, he’ll have the Herculean task of following up Saban, who many consider being the greatest college football coach of all time. He’s had success at all levels with a 104-12 head coaching record, but the biggest question is if he can replicate that success in the SEC, particularly at the biggest pressure cooker job in America. He has no prior experience coaching/recruiting in the south, so the staff that he assembles in Tuscaloosa will be his lifeline.