Kalen DeBoer took over as the head coach for the Washington Huskies in 2022 and has them in the National Championship just one year later.
Now a household name, DeBoer had a unique ascent to coaching stardom, one that requires a look back on his incredible coaching career: a career that compares favorably to some of the sport’s all-time greats.
Kalen DeBoer’s Career Coaching Record
DeBoer didn’t have a traditional route to the Power Five coaching ranks. Rather than start as a graduate transfer with a former coach or in an analyst’s role at a big school, DeBoer started at NAIA Sioux Falls where he had graduated as the school’s all-time receptions leader. He immediately became the school’s wide receivers coach upon graduation.
After a brief stint in the high school ranks (still as an assistant) DeBoer returned to his alma mater as the offensive coordinator in 2000, taking over as head coach in 2005.
In a remarkable five-year period as head coach at Sioux Falls, DeBoer’s teams went 67-3, never losing at home and winning three National Championships.
DeBoer spent time as an FCS offensive coordinator from 2014 and 2016 before moving up through the ranks to the Group of Five and then, finally, to the Power Five in 2019 under Tom Allen at Indiana.
When DeBoer returned to Fresno State in 2020, he took over for a team that had gone 4-8 the previous season. The Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, forcing the Bulldogs to cancel preseason practices and workouts. The Bulldogs went 3-3 in the COVID-shortened season before going 9-3 in his second and final season in Fresno, finishing his career there 12-6, 8-1 at home.
Since moving to Washington, DeBoer has gone 25-2, including a 14-0 home record.
In his head coaching career, DeBoer is:
- 104-12 overall
- 72-1 at home*
- 85-9 in the regular season
- 19-3 in the postseason
*DeBoer’s one home loss came during the COVID-impacted season with no fans in attendance so he’s never actually lost a game in front of his own fans.
How DeBoer’s Coaching Record Stacks Up Against Other Coaches
DeBoer’s .904 career win percentage ranks second all-time behind Mount Union legend Larry Kehres. But even that doesn’t tell the whole story about his success as a coach.
Of the coaches with the 15 best career winning percentages all-time, only five coached at the FBS level, with the other 10 spending the entirety of their careers at the FCS level or below. Just seven of the 15 coached after 1970 and just two coaches fit both criteria: DeBoer and Urban Meyer.
Furthermore, it’s the fact that DeBoer has found success at every stop along the way. It turns out 11 of those 15 spent their entire head coaching careers at one school. Only Meyer, DeBoer, Frank Leahy, and George Washington Woodruff had a similar level of high-level success at multiple stops.
Unlike Meyer, DeBoer has never won an FBS National Championship. With a win over Michigan, that would change. If Washington completes its perfect season, there’s an argument to be made that DeBoer should be considered one of the sport’s all-time greats, even before his 50th birthday.
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