Washington’s Kalen DeBoer, who guided the Huskies to a Pac-12 championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship game this past season, was named the next head coach at Alabama, the school announced Friday night.

DeBoer, 49, inherits one of the most coveted jobs in college football — and one of the most difficult — in replacing Nick Saban, whose teams won nine SEC titles and six national championships in his 17 seasons at the school. Saban, who had a 206-29 record at Alabama, retired Wednesday.

“I have always had an incredible respect for Alabama football and its commitment to excellence,” DeBoer said in a statement released by the school. “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. My family and I feel truly blessed and look forward to becoming a part of the Tuscaloosa community.”

DeBoer had informed his Washington players and staff Friday afternoon that he was leaving for Alabama, and he arrived in Tuscaloosa by plane Friday night, when he was expected to meet his new players.

A news conference to introduce DeBoer is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET Saturday.

Washington athletic director Troy Dannen made an aggressive pitch to keep DeBoer with a new contract that would have made him one of the 10 highest-paid coaches in the FBS and more than doubled his annual salary of $4.2 million, sources told ESPN’s Pete Thamel.

But DeBoer turned it down for Alabama and the SEC, meaning he will owe Washington a $12 million buyout after signing a two-year contract extension through the 2028 season in November.

DeBoer had emerged as the Crimson Tide’s top target even before three other possible candidates — Oregon’s Dan Lanning, Florida State’s Mike Norvell and Texas’ Steve Sarkisian — withdrew from the search and affirmed commitments to their current schools over the past two days.

“Coach DeBoer has proven he is a winner and has done an incredible job as a head coach at each of his stops,” Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said in a statement. “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. He is ready to get to work, and we look forward to him leading the Alabama Crimson Tide football program for years to come.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *