Alabama hires DeBoer as successor to Saban

Jan. 16—It is a daunting task to fill the shoes of a legend. Anyone, no matter their prior level of success, was going to have a hard time taking over for Nick Saban after he left Alabama. But, Alabama made a magnificent hire, taking Kalen DeBoer from Washington and bringing a championship mentality to Tuscaloosa.

Kalen DeBoer is no stranger to success. According to his sports-reference page, DeBoer has amassed a 37-9 record as a head coach over the last four years. He spent two years at Fresno State, leading them to a 12-6 record in those years before jetting off to Washington where he turned the program into a national powerhouse. In his first year with the Huskies, they went 11-2 and he led them to four wins over top 25 teams. This past season, DeBoer took the Huskies all the way. They battled through adversity, constantly underestimated, all the way to the CFP championship game where they fell short against Michigan. They finished 14-1 and had a perfect regular season, beating a top 10 Oregon team twice, clinching the Pac-12 championship and taking down six top 25 teams, including Texas in the Sugar Bowl.

Now, DeBoer will take over an Alabama team in a bit of flux. DeBoer's arrival has been met with jubilant celebration and hope. However, there is a history in college football of head coaches failing to fill the shoes of their legendary predecessors. Ones that stand out are Jimbo Fisher at Florida State taking over after college football legend Bobby Bowden. Bowden's Noles finished in the AP top four 14 straight times and won two national championships before slipping off a bit. Fisher took over and did win a title, though many argue he lucked into it with Jameis Winston carrying a lot of the load. Fisher declined after the title, losing two straight bowl games and exiting Tallahassee just three years after winning a championship.

Alabama has also seen the difficulties of replacing a legend. Bear Bryant was arguably the best college football coach of all time and resurrected the Crimson Tide's program. Bryant won a title in just his fourth season with Bama and would go on to win four more. After his retirement, Ray Perkins took over had a decent tenure, but wasn't up to snuff. Alabama then rolled through head coaches for a decade before landing Nick Saban and we all know what happened after that.

Simply put, DeBoer has an impossible task ahead of him and the transfer portal isn't making it easier. After Saban announced his retirement, questions swarmed the Bama locker room about their place in college football. Not many have made the move due to Saban's retirement, but key pieces like Isaiah Bond, who caught the now fabled touchdown to end the Iron Bowl and had a solid game against Georgia in the SEC time game, have entered the transfer portal. Three Bama players have entered the transfer portal since Saban's retirement as of writing and 20 have entered the portal since the loss to Michigan in the CFP.

DeBoer will not have an easy time of it, but he is still a home run hire with championship experience, a passion for the program and an attitude that gets recruits in the door.