Kalen DeBoer began his week sustaining a devastating loss with the Washington Huskies in the national championship game. He ends his week succeeding the legendary Nick Saban.
In a stunning twist on Friday, the national title game runner-up head coach immediately accepted the offer to take the head coaching reins of the Alabama Crimson Tide. DeBoer was hired less than 72 hours after the seven-time national championship-winning head coach Saban retired.
A flurry of responses filled social media after the hire — from national media and even future rival coaches of DeBoer, including one who believes DeBoer “will kill it” at ‘Bama.
Kalen DeBoer Receives “Wow” Responses
ESPN’s Pat McAfee spent his pre-national title game festivities talking to DeBoer and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh. But on Friday, he and his show panel gave a loud “wow!” reaction.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) January 12, 2024
McAfee added his own take on the hire.
“He obviously built up a monster in two short years at Washington,” McAfee said.
However, McAfee knows not everyone will be excited about the DeBoer news.
“I know all their fans and the Seattle folks and the West Coast football people aren’t going to be happy with his big brain and leadership to head to Alabama,” McAfee said. “But now? He has a system in place where he’s going to be able to win a natty if he’s able to do it. With Alabama, the SEC and recruiting — everything he’s going to have in his disposal. I think this is perfect for all parties, except for Washington.”
Super Bowl-winning linebacker and McAfee Show co-host A.J. Hawk, who starred at Ohio State, also chimed in on the news.
“We know what his resume is as a coach. But he seems to get it. He seems to be a good dude who understands everything going on. And it feels like he’s got a young vibe about him with how he interacts with guys. I think it’s an awesome hire.”
Director of recruiting for 247Sports, Steve Wiltfong, raved about the stunning move.
“Kalen DeBoer is a terrific leader, obviously one of the best head coaches in the country, and has an outstanding staff full of coaches and off-field personnel who are considered among the best in the profession. They’ll have the chops to recruit in the SEC,” Wilfong posted on X (formerly known as Twitter).
However, not everyone is raving about DeBoer bolting for Tuscaloosa. This move conjured up some bad memories for Tacoma News Tribune sports reporter Gregg Bell, who saw a similar move involving UW occur previously.
“Was in the room when Steve Sarkisian told Huskies players he was bolting to USC. It was an ugly, angry scene,” Bell posted on X.
He also had sympathy for the national title game runner-ups.
“Man, those guys don’t deserve this. Especially four days after they played for the natty,” Bell added.
Still, some view this as a “home run” type of hire. Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports views it as such.
“Kalen DeBoer is a home run hire for Alabama. Winners win…and that’s exactly what DeBoer has done throughout his career,” Sailee posted.
DeBoer will head to the SEC with no past ties to the fanbase or style of play. But Sailee doesn’t believe that matters for DeBoer and delivers a stirring prediction.
“It doesn’t matter that he is an ‘outsider’ when it comes to the SEC. He will kill it,” Sailee said.
Future Rival Coach Among Other Notable Responses
Meanwhile, one future coaching opponent for DeBoer has already responded to the new hire.
Lane Kiffin, who will soon see DeBoer on the other sidelines, typed up this cryptic post on Friday.
Looking at next year’s schedule……
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) January 12, 2024
It could mean he’s looking forward to the next Alabama game now that Saban is gone and an “outsider” to the SEC is coming in.
Kiffin and DeBoer already share a rare connection: Both men have Fresno State ties, with the Ole Miss head coach playing and serving as a graduate assistant there, while DeBoer was offensive coordinator from 2017-2018 before taking the HC job from 2020-2021.
Fans of ‘Bama praised the hire. UW fans spewed disappointment. As noted by CFB insider for The Athletic Bruce Feldman, Alabama completed its goal of naming a Saban replacement in at least 72 hours.
“Replacing The Greatest Coach of All Time is an impossible task, but say this for Alabama, Greg Byrne, he told the players, “give me 72 hours” (it took him way less than that) AND he landed one of the five best coaches in college football,” Feldman posted.
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