Alabama will name DeBoer its next head coach, sources told ESPN on Friday, replacing Nick Saban and his more than 200 wins and six national titles at the school.

DeBoer, 49, is 105-12 as a head coach and was named AP Coach of the Year at Washington last season on his way to the national championship game.

Now he must transition into a tougher-than-ever SEC that adds Texas and Oklahoma next season.

Why did the Tide choose DeBoer to lead the next era of Alabama football? And what’s next for Washington? We answer some of the most pressing questions about the move.

Over and above everything else, Alabama wanted a proven winner, and DeBoer has won everywhere he has been. He has won 11 or more games in seven of his nine seasons as a head coach. He took Washington to a Pac-12 championship and the College Football Playoff National Championship game in his second season at U-Dub.

Two of the other guys mentioned prominently in the Alabama coaching search, Dan Lanning and Steve Sarkisian, were a combined 0-5 against DeBoer over the past two seasons. DeBoer’s offenses were electric. The Huskies ranked 13th nationally in scoring this season and sixth in 2022. They averaged at least 36 points per game in both seasons, and look at the way quarterback Michael Penix Jr. blossomed under DeBoer at Washington.

It was important for Alabama to get someone with vast head-coaching experience. DeBoer has been a head coach in the Pac-12, at Fresno State and in the Division II ranks with Sioux Falls. — Chris Low

Roster retention is going to be priority No. 1. A mass exodus of players to the portal could be crippling, especially since the ability to backfill won’t happen again until the portal reopens for non-graduates in the spring. Even then, most of the big names already made their moves. But setting aside that immediate concern, far and away the biggest challenge will be expectations. Not just wins and losses, but constantly being compared to Saban and how he did things.

While there’s no tower a la Bear Bryant to take down, DeBoer will have to walk a fine line implementing his process without appearing to step on Saban’s capital-P Process. Change too many things too quickly and the fan base and boosters might revolt. And in today’s game of NIL, you have to keep the donations coming. — Alex Scarborough

DeBoer has some positives working in his favor when it comes to the roster. The first is that we just went through the early signing period and all but six of Alabama’s original commitments enrolled early.

Classes have already started at Alabama, which means the prospects in the 2024 class who enrolled early can’t be released from their national letters of intent; they would have to transfer to leave. To do that, players would use their one-time transfer, but also need to get admitted and enroll at a new school.

That could prove difficult, with different institutions having different schedules, and players might have to wait until summer to enroll.

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DeBoer needs to ensure that the elite players who just signed want to stay and would fit in his system. The key member of that class is five-star quarterback Julian Sayin, who was the No. 1 quarterback and the No. 3 overall prospect in the cycle. For depth, talent and competition, keeping Sayin on the roster is imperative.

He could be the quarterback of the future and make the transition a lot easier for DeBoer. He can show Sayin the success he had with Michael Penix Jr. and try to convince Sayin that he could do the same for him.

The next order of business would be evaluating the roster and ensuring any players that he wants to stay know that they are wanted. The players have a 30-day window to enter the transfer portal and explore other options. The players at Washington would also have a 30-day window to enter the portal since DeBoer left, so if there are some he thinks could help him win at Alabama, he could try to bring them with him.

Alabama’s roster is already filled with stars and elite players, so there shouldn’t be much of a weeding-out process. He’s inheriting a team that won an SEC championship and made it to the College Football Playoff, so his main goal needs to be retention and maintaining status quo, while adding players to supplement an already excellent roster. — Tom VanHaaren

What is Saban’s new role at Alabama and how does it affect DeBoer?

Saban’s role and/or presence will be with the entire university, not just the football program. His office is going to be at Bryant-Denny Stadium, which means he won’t be chatting up coaches or players in the football complex and poking his head in the film room. Besides, that’s not his style.

Saban wants no part of being the former coach looking over somebody’s shoulder, but will always be open to giving his advice when asked. What he wants is to be a resource any way he can for the entire university in any number of ways. He has made it clear how much Alabama means to him and his wife, Terry. But he’s not going to be hanging around all the time, and the reality is that whoever the new coach was going to be at Alabama, Saban’s immense shadow was always going to be lurking, whether Saban was physically present or not. — Low

The expectation won’t change just because Saban is gone. And next season, why should it? Assuming the key players from last season don’t bolt for the portal (Jalen Milroe, Caleb Downs, Deontae Lawson and Kadyn Proctor, to name a few), this team still has what it takes to contend for an SEC title. If not for defensive breakdowns late against Michigan, the Tide hold on to win the Rose Bowl and maybe send Saban out with a championship. And remember, the playoff is expanding, so even without a conference championship next season, you can still get in.

But the challenge will be significant, setting aside the difficulties that will accompany a coaching transition. Georgia and LSU aren’t going anywhere, Ole Miss is making a big push and Texas is coming into the conference with title expectations of its own. — Scarborough

For UW, it’s simple: Ryan Grubb should be elevated from offensive coordinator to head coach immediately. If you are reading this and new UW athletic director Troy Dannen hasn’t already hired Grubb to replace DeBoer, he’s moving too slowly.

DeBoer deserves all the credit he’s received for what he’s accomplished in coaching, but Grubb has been with him nearly every step of the way (Sioux Falls, Eastern Michigan, Fresno State and UW). When Washington players talk about the offense and why it has been so successful, Grubb is the one they describe as the “mad genius” or with some other kind of similarly flattering name.

He was the play caller, he was the one who worked most closely with QB Michael Penix Jr. and he should be options A, B and C to replace DeBoer. This isn’t the same as Jimmy Lake inheriting the program from Chris Petersen. Grubb is ready. Building a staff will be a challenge because DeBoer and Grubb will inevitably want to lean on some of the same guys, but there will be a line of talented coaches who want to be in Seattle. — Kyle Bonagura

And it’s also a confusing week for the coaches and leaders on campus, who have no idea what the specific rules of engagement are moving forward.

There should be no trips to the chiropractor from self-congratulatory back pats for taking this step, as the business of college sports will remain messy. No one should be cheered for paying billions just to avoid paying additional billions.

The peace that NCAA and conference leaders hope they are purchasing with their billions in settlement money is seemingly tentative. While the settlement will make it harder for plaintiff attorneys to wield the threat of billion-dollar damages in the future, athletes will have options to keep challenging any restriction or cap on how they are paid. As the final yes votes were being collected this week, a separate federal case in Colorado — Fontenot v. NCAA — continued to march forward on its own track, leaving open the possibility that NCAA lawyers won’t have time to catch their breath before fighting the next battle on capping athlete compensation.

The games on the fields and arenas of college sports remain wonderful, the television ratings in college football and the NCAA tournament for men’s and women’s basketball are all gangbusters. And the NCAA, behind decisive leadership from president Charlie Baker, appears to have bought increased relevance in the coming years by finding enough consensus to avoid a catastrophic financial loss from yet another court decision going against it.

But the reality of the culmination of votes on Thursday, which still need the approval of Judge Claudia Wilken, is that college leaders took the best bad option. Pay billions now and share the revenue or, lawyers predicted, lose a series of lawsuits, declare bankruptcy and start over.

How we got here is simple. As college sports roared from regional passion to national obsession through the 1990s and this century, NCAA leaders and college presidents clung to a business model that didn’t pay the talent. (The coaches, not coincidentally, were compensated at significant levels because the players never commanded a salary.)

Just three years ago, the NCAA fought the notion of paying athletes a now-quaint $6,000 in academic-based awards all the way to the Supreme Court. So it’s hard to overstate just how drastic the tenor change is surrounding college sports.

Somewhere along the way, as conference television networks formed, commissioner salaries boomed to $5 million a year — for former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, of all people — and the television contracts rivaled professional sports’, there was never a way to directly cut in the athletes. Until this week.

So what does this mean for college sports when revenue sharing comes as early as fall 2025? Where does this take us?

We’ve outlined the lingering questions that will need to be hammered out. Most of the decisions to this point have been guided by the NCAA, lawyers and commissioners, and there will be a point when the actual participants in the weeds of the sports — the athletic directors and coaches — have a voice in the process. Or at least they hope to.

Along with making it less financially appealing for plaintiff attorneys to challenge the NCAA in antitrust cases, college leaders are also hoping they can lay their new settlement at the feet of Congress as a show of good faith. In turn, they hope to spur some momentum for a federal law that gives them increased protection from lawsuits in the future. However, there are no guarantees the settlement will shake loose any votes on Capitol Hill, which has thus far been stagnant on NCAA-related legislation and will have most of its time occupied by November’s election.

Without help from Congress, it will remain a bumpy road for the NCAA to enforce the kinds of rules it thinks are necessary to restore stability to college sports.

How does Title IX factor into the financial calculus? That looms as the biggest campus worry. How will rosters be constructed? Football coaches who have 130 players on their team — 85 scholarships and 45 walk-ons — are wondering if they need to cut a third of the roster with the expected inclusion of roster caps.

“This all is well intended, but I’ll believe it when I see it,” an industry source told ESPN. “There are three big issues looming that will determine how this goes: The Title IX strategy for the implementation of revenue distribution, enforcement issues surrounding residual NIL and how roster caps work.”

If NIL remains outside athletic departments, as expected, who will police it? The NCAA’s enforcement track record is nearly as poor as its legal record. Could there be someone — perhaps a magistrate or special master appointed by Judge Wilken — who is an arbiter of the interpretations of the settlement?

“You are going to need a new group to handle enforcement of NIL,” another industry source said. “Not the NCAA, because the system is going to be completely different. An entity that looks like the NFL or NBA league office, because the issues that matter are different from the previous regulatory focus at the NCAA. It was all about amateurism. Now it’s going to be much different, you effectively have a salary cap.”

The problem with policing NIL is that separating deals based on endorsements from those that are thinly veiled payments for performance remains just as much of a subjective process as it has been during the past three years. It’s unclear how any settlement terms will provide the tools schools need to shut down a thriving NIL market that is outside their direct control.

Athletic directors are facing the most significant decisions of their careers — how do they find the money and slice it up? The only certainty is there will be unhappiness on campus, as the value of teams to their administrators will now include a dollar sign.

And that will come with much consternation, including the potential cutting of Olympic sports to help fund the roster of financial bell cows.

Be ready for a few months of ambiguity, as formal federal approval looms and then the real work of hammering out the details will begin.

Those are the questions being asked today by just about everyone in the industry. Coaches don’t know how to recruit the Class of 2025, as the recruiting rules — right down to how many players can be on the roster — have yet to be determined.

Football players will go on official visits this month prior to their senior seasons and not know what to expect. Schools won’t even know basic details like roster spots and available money.

So while history will come with the expected formalization of this settlement, the immediate future of what this looks like remains unclear. Which is fitting, as fixing decades of issues was always going to be a slog.

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