What coaches with Big Ten connections (cough, Kalen DeBoer) could be the next Alabama football head coach?

Nick Saban stepped down as the head coach of Alabama football on Wednesday, drawing an end to an era of incredible success. Yes, Kalen DeBoer, despite the flimsy Big Ten connection, is on the list.

There is likely never going to be another Saban, who might just be the best head coach in college football history. His success with Alabama is staggering.

He was 206-29 with a 16-7 record in bowl games. He won six national championships with Alabama (and one with LSU).

Now, Alabama will have to replace a head coach who might well be the best of all time. It won’t be easy.

And while Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer is the favorite to end up with Alabama, nothing is set in stone.


Alabama is a pressure cooker job, one where a winning record and a New Year’s Six bowl appearance simply isn’t enough. Alabama will have to hire young, hungry and aggressive.

Scroll down and check out what head coach with Big Ten connections might be a fit for Alabama football!

Alabama football head coach hot board: Kalen DeBoer

Why it makes sense: The steady growth of Washington over the past two seasons under DeBoer is impressive. And like Lanning, Washington isn’t a member of the Big Ten. But they will be soon enough, and so they are included on this list. In two seasons with the Huskies, DeBoer is 25-3 and took his program to the College Football Playoff.

Why ir doesn’t make sense. DeBoer is young and a hot name on the coaching circuit, but is he accomplished enough for the ‘Bama faithful? Crimson Tide fans won’t be patient given the fact that Saban didn’t exactly leave the cupboard bare.

Alabama football head coach hot board: James Franklin

Why it makes sense: Franklin is an elite recruiter and has an 88-39 record at Penn State. He has a familiarity with the SEC, having spent three seasons as head coach at Vanderbilt before taking over the Nittany Lions in 2014. He recruited well and won at Vanderbilt, which makes a pretty convincing argument that he has the potential to maintain the standard at Alabama.

Why it doesn’t make sense: Franklin is 4-5 in bowl games.  Five times in his 10 seasons at Penn State, his team has finished lower – or completely unraked – than their preseason AP Poll ranking. There is a sense that Franklin has done less with more and that perception won’t help matters.

Alabama football head coach hot board: Danny Lanning

Why it makes sense: OK, this is a technicality. Oregon doesn’t join the Big Ten until this fall. But Lanning is a tremendous coach, has taken Oregon to the next level and was on Alabama’s staff in 2012. He would be a home run hire.

Why it doesn’t make sense: Unless Alabama is going to hire internally, this makes a ton of sense.

Alabama football head coach hot board: Mike Locksley

Why it makes sense: The Maryland head coach has built the Terrapins into a very respectable Big Ten program. They have three straight bowl appearances – all wins – and are 62-29 in six seasons under Locksley. He spent three seasons at Alabama on staff, starting in 2016, before leaving for the Big Ten and Maryland.

Why it doesn’t make sense: Maryland, while improved under Locksley, is by no means an eliete program. Locksley could be an intriguing interview, but a jump up to Alabama – when Maryland has only been ranked once during his tenure – is a huge ask.

Alabama football head coach hot board: Urban Meyer

Why it makes sense: Why not? Meyer has won in the SEC and the Big Ten, with his most recent success at Ohio State likely overshadowed by his NFL failure. Still, Meyer is highly accomplished and a big name in college football. He would create some buzz in the wake of Nick Saban leaving.

Why it doesn’t make sense: Meyer’s term in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars was a disaster. It might be too much to overcome at this point. At 59-years old, he might want to enjoy his time with the Big Ten Network.

Alabama football head coach hot board: Bill O'Brien

Why it makes sense: O’Brien turned Penn State around in the years after the scandal of the last decade. His last job was in the NFL with the New England Patriots as their offensive coordinator, giving him some clout for this possible job with Alabama. Speaking of which, he spent two years prior to his return to the NFL as the offensive coordinator of the Crimson Tide.

Why it doesn’t make sense: There might be coordinator offers for O’Brien, who turned 54 years old this past fall. Also, given the accusations made by Jalen Millroe two weeks ago, could a return to Alabama (with Millroe as the starting quarterback no less) be plausible?

Alabama football head coach hot board: Mike McDonald

Why it makes sense: It has been quite the rise for McDonald, who was the Michigan defensive coordinator in 2021 before assuming the same position with the Baltimore Ravens. He has some tremendous NFL experience on his resume and spent time at Georgia on staff early in his career giving him some SEC experience.

Why it doesn’t make sense: McDonald is the defensive coordinator for a Super Bowl contender. NFL jobs will start being linked to him sooner rather than later.

Story originally appeared on Rutgers Wire