Washington's Kalen DeBoer accepts job at Alabama

League: NCAA Football

Posted on: 13 Jan, 2024 at 02:02 AM

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Calling it the "opportunity of a lifetime," Kalen DeBoer has left Washington after taking the Huskies to the Pac-12 title and a runner-up finish in the College Football Playoff to be the new head football coach at Alabama, the Crimson Tide announced Friday night.

The 49-year-old DeBoer, who replaces the retired Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa, said he "would not have left Washington for just any school."

"I have always had an incredible respect for Alabama football and its commitment to excellence," DeBoer said in a statement. "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 (Nick) 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." DeBoer continued. "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 guided the Huskies to a 12-0 record during the regular season, a Pac-12 championship game victory and a spot in the CFP national championship game. DeBoer was voted the Associated Press Coach of the Year last month.

Washington dropped a 34-13 decision to No. 1 Michigan in the CFP national championship game and finished 14-1.

ESPN reported Washington director of athletics Troy Dannen tried to entice DeBoer to stay with a new contract that would make him one of the 10 highest-paid coaches in FBS. DeBoer will have to compensate Washington with a $12 million buyout after signing a two-year contract extension through the 2028 season in November, ESPN reported.

"The last two seasons of Washington Husky Football have encapsulated all that we seek in our sports programs: competing for championships, providing a tremendous student-athlete experience and creating a lifetime of memories for our student-athletes, our university, our fans and our community," Dannen said in a statement Friday. "Kalen DeBoer has been an outstanding leader of our football program and what he accomplished in two seasons on Montlake will forever be a part of our storied history. We are sad to see him leave and we did all that we could to keep Kalen at UW.

"But ultimately, he made a decision that was in the best interests of his family and furthered his professional goals. We thank Kalen for his service to Washington and wish him, (wife) Nicole, (and daughters) Alexis and Avery the very best in their new endeavor."

Saban won six of his seven national titles in his 17 years at Alabama, tying the school mark set by legendary Bear Bryant. He finishes with a career mark of 297-71-1, 206 of those wins coming at Alabama (with 29 losses).

He led the Crimson Tide to nine Southeastern Conference championships. Saban publicly gave his blessing to his successor.

"I want nothing more than to see Alabama football continue to be successful, and Coach DeBoer is an outstanding choice to lead this program," Saban said in a statement released by Alabama. "He has a proven track record of success and is one of the brightest football minds.

"Coach DeBoer has an excellent understanding of what it takes to be a successful head coach, whether it's coaching, recruiting, developing players or building a culture," Saban continued. "He has done a fantastic job at every stop of his coaching career, and I am excited to see what he will be able to accomplish in Tuscaloosa. Terry (Saban's wife) and I will be here to support Coach DeBoer and his family with anything they need."

Before inheriting a Huskies team that finished 4-8 in 2021, DeBoer was 67-3 with three NAIA championships at his alma mater Sioux Falls (2005-09) and 12-6 in two seasons at Fresno State (2020-21).

DeBoer paid immediate dividends since being hired at Washington, guiding the Huskies to an 11-2 record in 2022 and a victory in the Alamo Bowl. He followed up an undefeated regular season in 2023 with a 34-31 victory over Oregon in the Pac-12 title game and a 37-31 win over Texas in a CFP semifinal on New Year's Day before the title game defeat against Michigan.

"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 the 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," Byrne continued.

--Field Level Media