Kalen DeBoer is just behind Kirby Smart in latest SEC head coach rankings

The Alabama Crimson Tide begin the 2024 college football season against Western Kentucky, and it will be the first time in over 17 seasons that the Tide will take the field without the legendary Nick Saban on the sideline. Saban’s retirement still doesn’t feel real, but seeing new head coach Kalen DeBoer on the sideline could be a breath of fresh air too.

Losing Saban was always going to be incredibly difficult, but athletic director Greg Byrne reacted quickly and landed a phenomenal head coach in DeBoer.

In two seasons with the Washington Huskies, DeBoer was 25-3 with a PAC-12 title and national championship appearance. Between NAIA and D1 football, DeBoer has posted an outstanding career record of 104-12. It was just a matter of time before other programs started calling on DeBoer, so while Saban’s retirement wasn’t a great thing, the timing definitely could have been worse. DeBoer has also shown he can beat the best coaches in the country as he is a combined 5-0 against Dan Lanning and Steve Sarkisian.

Heading into the 2024 season, ESPN ranks DeBoer as the second-best coach in America behind only Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs.

Even in Saban’s later years at the helm of the Alabama program, Smart had begun to catch up. Now, Smart is the undisputed top head coach in the conference, but it may not take long for DeBoer to overtake him. Though, there’s also the risk that some slip-ups lead to DeBoer falling in the rankings.

With a new-look coaching staff and a roster that lost plenty of last season’s playmakers, there’s much unknown about the 2024 Alabama team. While some may see this as a negative, there’s a good chance this can be utilized to the Tide’s advantage. A certain level of unpredictability can boost the team against the strong opponents on the upcoming schedule.

Fans won’t have to wait long to see DeBoer and Smart go head-to-head, as Georgia visits Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama in a regular-season matchup on  Sep. 28, 2024.

Roll Tide Wire will continue to follow DeBoer and the Alabama football program as the 2024 offseason progresses.

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Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire