Alabama’s Kalen DeBoer hiring seems like a home run, but attempting to replace Nick Saban is inherently risky

Two things can be true at the same time in evaluating Alabama’s hiring of Kalen DeBoer.

The Crimson Tide absolutely got the top name available. The fast-rising 49-year-old has proved his coaching chops in a short amount of time. He comes to T-Town tied for the sixth-best winning percentage of all active FBS coaches (.804).

DeBoer has upside for days. In his first two seasons at Washington, DeBoer was twice named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, taking the Huskies to the College Football Playoff National Championship this season. Home run with a 👍.

Then there are these two words to consider: Bryan Harsin. That’s not meant to be harsh; it’s a reality that must be contemplated as Alabama moves from the greatest coach ever to his replacement.

The SEC — Bama in particular — doesn’t generally suffer newbies from the outside who have never coached in the Southeast. Not passing judgment; just passing along the facts.

Harsin is merely the latest example of an accomplished coach taking a job in the heart of the SEC despite not necessarily knowing the culture of the SEC.

This is not to say DeBoer will fail and be run out of town much the same way Harsin was at Auburn (taking a hearty $15 million buyout with him). It is a reminder that no one can replace Nick Saban. You shouldn’t have to be told that.

DeBoer admitted as much Saturday during his introductory press conference.

“He’s the best in the business who has ever done it,” DeBoer said of Saban. “I’m going to ask him that he shows up and gives me at least one thing that he sees that we can get better at.”

DeBoer looks like the right guy at the right time. Speaking with him earlier this week in Houston, it’s clear he has it. Still, the
job itself is almost impossible, at least in its…


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