Does Kalen DeBoer know what he’s getting into at Alabama?

Kalen DeBoer: Alabama’s Risky Coaching Hire

It’s safe to say that many Alabama fans had never heard of Kalen DeBoer before this season. In fact, it would be interesting to see just how many of them knew his name even a month and a half ago. But when Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19, the Crimson Tide had to find a replacement quickly to keep the team on track amidst the chaos of players entering the transfer portal. And so, DeBoer was thrust into the spotlight as the new head coach of one of college football’s most prestigious programs.

DeBoer’s coaching journey has taken him from coaching at Fresno State just three seasons ago to now leading the Alabama football program. The transition from the West Coast to Tuscaloosa is no small feat, as the two regions are vastly different in terms of football culture and expectations. Nonetheless, DeBoer seemed eager to step up to the challenge, as he expressed in a statement, “The chance to lead the football program at the University of Alabama is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

However, it’s hard to ignore the magnitude of the task that DeBoer has taken on. Following in the footsteps of a legendary coach like Nick Saban is no easy feat. The expectation for success at Alabama is sky-high, with anything less than a College Football Playoff appearance being considered a disappointment. There will be no grace period for DeBoer to acclimate to his new role. He must hit the ground running and deliver immediate results.

Nick Saban’s tenure at Alabama has been nothing short of extraordinary. With the exception of his first year, the team consistently dominated, losing three games in a season only once. The Tide became a formidable force, akin to a T-1000 that seemed invincible. Even after early setbacks in the 2021 season, Alabama rebounded, winning the SEC and dethroning the back-to-back national champion Georgia Bulldogs.

Despite the challenges and high expectations, DeBoer’s hiring makes sense for several reasons. Firstly, he comes with little to no baggage. Alabama fans have witnessed and defeated many big-name coaches in the SEC, making it difficult to find a coach with regional ties who wouldn’t face immediate scrutiny. DeBoer’s fresh start could be a refreshing change for the program.

Secondly, the timing was crucial. A prolonged coaching search would have eroded confidence both inside and outside the program. Alabama’s strongest asset right now is the infrastructure that Saban has built, but that can quickly crumble with the current transfer portal rules. Retaining and re-recruiting the current roster is a top priority, and DeBoer’s swift hiring allows the team to focus on that crucial task.

Lastly, DeBoer’s track record indicates that he expects to win. He has achieved success at every stop along his coaching journey, and he brings a positive outlook to his new role. While some may view his optimism as slightly ignorant, it’s clear that he has the drive and determination to succeed. However, DeBoer must understand that it will take time and, most likely, at least one national title for him to truly become “a part of the Tuscaloosa community.”

While Alabama may have found its new head coach, the departure of DeBoer from Washington is undoubtedly a big loss for both the university and the Big Ten conference. The Huskies now face the challenge of finding a replacement who can fill DeBoer’s shoes. With key players like Michael Penix Jr. and a talented receiving corps departing for the NFL, the Huskies’ next head coach will have their work cut out for them.

The Big Ten conference also suffers a blow, as it seemed to be gaining ground on its rival, the SEC. With big names turning down offers from Alabama, the options for Washington and the conference as a whole become limited. It remains to be seen whether the Huskies will opt for a retread or take a gamble on an unproven coordinator. Either way, the Big Ten’s hopes of closing the gap with the SEC have been dampened.

In the end, only time will tell if DeBoer’s hiring was the right move for Alabama. The expectations are high, and the pressure is immense. But if there’s one thing that college football has taught us, it’s that anything is possible. Perhaps DeBoer will rise to the occasion and lead the Crimson Tide to even greater heights.

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