College Football

Washington's Kalen DeBoer hired to replace Nick Saban as Alabama football coach

DeBoer heads to Tuscaloosa after spending the last two seasons at Washington

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Kalen DeBoer has been hired to replace a college football legend.

The former Washington head coach will take over for Nick Saban at Alabama, the university announced on Thursday.

"I have always had an incredible respect for Alabama football and its commitment to excellence," DeBoer said in a statement. "The tradition-rich history of this program is unmatched across the landscape of college athletics, and I look forward to continuing that moving forward. Following Coach Saban is an honor. He has been the standard for college football, and his success is unprecedented. I would not have left Washington for just any school. The chance to lead the football program at The University of Alabama is the opportunity of a lifetime."

DeBoer, 49, led Washington to its first College Football Playoff berth this season and got the team into the CFP National Championship, where it lost to Michigan.

ESPN's Pete Thamel reported that Washington made a pitch to keep DeBoer and offered him a contract that would more than double his current $4.2 million salary. DeBoer would owe Washington $12 million as part of a buyout in a contract extension he signed with the university in November.

DeBoer was named Washington's head coach in November 2021 and lost just three games during his tenure. The Huskies went 11-2 in 2022 before going 14-1, making the College Football Playoff and winning the Sugar Bowl in his second season.

Prior to his time at Washington, DeBoer coached at the University of Sioux Falls, was an offensive coordinator at Southern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Fresno State and Indiana and then was head coach at Fresno State in 2020 and 2021.

Oregon's Dan Lanning, Texas' Steve Sarkisian and Florida State's Mike Norvell were among Alabama's targets, but each withdrew from the search.

Alabama went 12-2 in 2023 and lost to Michigan in the Rose Bowl, which turned out to be Saban's final game. Now, with the six-time national champion gone, the Crimson Tide will turn to a new chapter.

"Coach DeBoer has proven he is a winner and has done an incredible job as a head coach at each of his stops," said Greg Byrne, Alabama's director of athletics. "One of the things I told our team the other day is we are going to get someone who is not only a great coach with the Xs and Os, but also someone who cares about his players and someone I'd want my sons to play for, just like I would have wanted them to play for Coach Saban. We got that in Coach DeBoer." 

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