Kalen DeBoer to make $10 million in first season succeeding Nick Saban at Alabama

Alabama football head coach Kalen DeBoer talks with the media after Alabama's first spring football practice, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Kalen DeBoer is entering his first season at Alabama. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Alabama coach Kalen DeBoer is making almost as much as Nick Saban would have in 2024.

The former Washington coach will make $10 million in his first season with the Crimson Tide. DeBoer was hired in January to replace Saban after the legendary coach retired following Alabama’s Rose Bowl loss to Michigan.

Saban was set to make $11.5 million in 2024 had he stayed on as Alabama’s coach. He retired on Jan. 11 and Alabama had DeBoer hired to replace him within days. DeBoer's contract terms were released by Alabama on Monday.

DeBoer was making just over $4 million at Washington as the Huskies went undefeated before losing to Michigan in the national championship game. He was set to get a new contract at Washington had he stayed with the Huskies. Washington’s athletic director has said that DeBoer would have made over $9 million per season had he stayed at the school.

The $10 million salary at Alabama makes DeBoer the fifth-highest paid coach in the country this upcoming season, according to USA Today’s database. He’s behind Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Georgia’s Kirby Smart, Texas’ Steve Sarkisian — he recently signed a contract extension and got a pay raise after the Longhorns’ College Football Playoff appearance — and Ohio State’s Ryan Day.

DeBoer signed an eight-year deal when he was hired at Alabama, and the contract totals over $80 million as his salary will increase every year. Given the college coaching landscape, it’s highly unlikely that DeBoer will see out the length of this contract. If the Tide continue the success they had under Saban for the first few years of his tenure, DeBoer will likely earn a contract extension.

Another notable figure from DeBoer’s contract is its low buyout figure. DeBoer’s buyout is just $5 million for the first two seasons of his deal before eventually disappearing after the 2027 season. Many schools include high buyout figures in coaching contracts to make it prohibitive for another school or team to snipe the coach. But given Alabama’s presence at the top of college football, the Tide don’t have to worry about that. There are few, if any, better jobs in college football than being the coach at Alabama.

Conversely, the lack of a buyout will make it financially easier for the Crimson Tide to move on in case things don’t work out. That’s certainly possible, but it’s worth remembering how DeBoer’s teams have won throughout his time as head coach. DeBoer’s teams are 104-12 over his nine seasons at Sioux Falls, Fresno State and Washington.