OPINION: Alabama has a clear choice when it comes to hiring a new head coach

Replacing Nick Saban is an impossible task, it was always going to be. What he did on the football field will never be replicated. Six national titles, nine SEC Championships and four Heisman Trophy winners are just the beginning of an unfathomable list of achievements and accolades. There was never going to be an easy time for Saban to step away, but maybe it wasn’t the worst after an SEC title and Rose Bowl berth.

From Saban’s perspective, 14-hour long days are difficult for anyone, especially a 72-year-old. Especially in the era of the NIL, transfer portal, and social media, he has been remarkable in adapting as well as he has over time. However, I believe he still has a very bright future in media and think it’s more likely than not that he will end up on a show like ESPN’s College GameDay.

Stepping away now hurts, but if he left after the 2024 season, he would be departing at the same time as Milroe and other key contributors, which would leave a lot of issues for his successor. As of right now, whoever the next coach is has a chance to step in and take over the reins of a national title-caliber team. The next coach has a lot of recruiting to do to keep the current roster together, but Saban at an advisor-level role helps monumentally.

As for who the coach will be, I think Greg Byrne has his guy. Byrne loves and owes Saban the world, but he knew life would go on after Saban. Byrne has made some outstanding hires such as Nate Oats, so I would be appalled if he dropped the ball on the biggest coaching vacancy in the sport in 17 years. Who he hires after Saban is how Byrne’s legacy will always be judged, and I think this is an opportunity for him to flex his muscles.

Wednesday night, all the smoke indicated that Oregon’s Dan Lanning was the top target, but FOX Sports Joel Klatt has said since the jump that the pick is Washington’s DeBoer, even going as far as to say, “I would be pretty surprised if Deboer isn’t the next head coach at Alabama.” Klatt is as well connected to the people in the conference formerly known PAC-12 as anyone and is usually a very level-headed guy in a sport about hot takes.

In the last month, DeBoer hired a new agent, Jimmy Sexton. Sexton is the SEC mega-agent who represents guys like Steve Sarkisian, Lane Kiffin, Mike Norvell, and plenty of other big-time names.

Today, Norvell had a new deal announced and Sark is reportedly close to one which tells me that Sexton is just leveraging his guys into new deals for now. Norvell, Lanning, and Sarkisian have all publicly posted videos to X to stay at their current school, but it’s been crickets from DeBoer in Seattle. It was so quiet that DeBoer called out on his morning appearance with the 93.3 KJR radio station in Seattle.

DeBoer is from South Dakota and has no true allegiances anywhere when it comes to coaching, so it’s pretty hard to turn down the best coaching job in the sport in Alabama. He is 104-12 as a head coach and coming off of back-to-back PAC-12 Coach of the Year awards. He went 67-3 at Sioux Falls with three NAIA national championships. Since taking over for Washington he is 25-3, and 3-0 against Lanning and 2-0 against Sarkisian. He led his team to the College Football Playoffs and got all the way to the national championship, but fell short.

Until something tells me otherwise, all signs seem to point to DeBoer. Everywhere DeBoer has been, he has won, it would be interesting to see what he could do with Alabama’s resources. It also opens the question if he would bring offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, an Alabama target last summer, along with him.

I get that trying to replace Saban is a daunting task, but these college football coaches aren’t going to shy away from a challenge.

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