Alabama defies history by hiring Kalen Deboer

In a surprising move, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football program has hired Washington’s Kalen Deboer as their new head coach, proving that they are willing to expand beyond their usual choices. This is a welcome change, as many college athletic departments tend to stick to the familiar and hire assistants or former assistants of outgoing coaches. However, history has shown that this approach often leads to failure.

One example of this pattern is when Alabama chose New York Giants coach Ray Perkins over more experienced and successful coaches like Howard Schnellenberger, Bobby Bowden, or Gene Stallings after Bear Bryant retired in 1982. Perkins had a lackluster record as a head coach and had never led a college program before. On the other hand, Bowden had already achieved success at West Virginia and was on the verge of turning Florida State into a powerhouse. Alabama’s decision to choose familiarity over competence proved to be a mistake.

Similarly, when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was fired, the Buckeyes turned to former assistant Earle Bruce. Despite his winning record at Iowa State, Bruce couldn’t replicate the same success at Ohio State. Florida defensive coordinator Will Muschamp also failed to live up to expectations after succeeding Urban Meyer, and USC’s decision to hire inexperienced and underachieving Lane Kiffin as Pete Carroll’s successor ended in disappointment.

Even Miami’s Butch Davis’s leap to the NFL’s Cleveland Browns in 2001 led to the unraveling of the program under his successor, Larry Coker. Coker won a national title but was unable to maintain the program’s success, facing off-field controversies and a lack of discipline. Jimbo Fisher’s tenure at Florida State was a brief revival, but he relied heavily on star quarterback Jameis Winston.

The formula of choosing comfort over excellence has repeatedly failed in college football. Running a successful program requires adapting to changing trends, recruiting top talent, and staying ahead of advancing offensive and defensive schemes. Coaches must be willing to look outside their inner circle for fresh ideas and approaches.

Kalen Deboer brings his own coaching system to Alabama, making him a departure from the typical assistant-turned-head coach. He has a proven track record of reinvigorating programs and now has the opportunity to join the pantheon of successful coaches. However, the challenge for Deboer will be to keep Alabama at the top of college football, as the program’s chances of remaining there are slim. He will have to quickly get Alabama back on track and defy the history of failed coaching transitions.

In conclusion, Alabama’s decision to hire Kalen Deboer as their new head coach is a step in the right direction. By expanding beyond their usual choices and looking for fresh talent, they have a better chance of sustaining their success. Time will tell if Deboer can maintain the program’s excellence, but the Crimson Tide should be commended for breaking the pattern of hiring familiar faces and taking a chance on an outsider.

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