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Can't Wait For Saturday | Replacing Saban may be impossible, but Alabama nailed the hire

Jan. 13—Sign up for our daily Illini football newsletter here

Greetings from "Can't Wait For Saturday," your morning morsel of college football, courtesy of longtime Illini beat writer, AP Top 25 voter and Heisman state rep Bob Asmussen. He'll give you his views each day on the game he loves.

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Kalen DeBoer: Have a week.

On Monday, he was coaching Washington in the national championship game against Michigan. By Friday, he was the new boss at Alabama.

Apparently, the folks in Tuscaloosa weren't bothered by the Huskies loss to the Wolverines. Good call. Michigan was on, Michael Penix Jr. was off and the right team won.

DeBoer pushed all the right buttons during a 14-1 season at Washington. Like with then-Illinois basketball coach Bill Self, when the Bluest of Blue Bloods calls, you have to take the job.

Alabama is that job in college football.

What comes next is up to DeBoer. We know he should have a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback. Again.

In 2023, it was Penix. In '24, it will be Jalen Milroe, who said earlier he planned to return to Alabama for one more year. No reason for him to alter his plans even with a new coach.

The crop of quarterbacks in the '24 NFL draft is special. Go out now and Milroe will be picked fourth, fifth or even sixth.

A season with DeBoer will do Milroe plenty of good.

Wonder if DeBoer looked at the 2024 Alabama schedule before he said yes? It is a bit on the nasty side. After opening against Western Kentucky on Aug. 31 the Crimson Tide have games against improved USF, at Wisconsin, Georgia, at Tennessee, Missouri and at LSU.

For some reason, Alabama hosts Mercer, then closes at Oklahoma and at home against Auburn.

DeBoer needs to be on his toes from the start. And unlike Washington, where the fans and school appreciate the near-miracle he almost pulled off, the folks in Tuscaloosa expect greatness now. The honeymoon lasts thislong.

DeBoer seems up for the challenge. Check back in December and I will give you his grade.