Alabama works to hire Washington’s Kalen DeBoer to replace retiring Nick Saban, source says

Published 3:18 pm Friday, January 12, 2024

Alabama is negotiating with Washington coach Kalen DeBoer and is close to hiring him as the replacement for Nick Saban, a person with direct knowledge of the talks said Friday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because a deal was not completed yet. The talks were first reported by ESPN.

DeBoer, 49, is a former NAIA coach who led Washington to the national championship game in just his second season.

DeBoer would replace Saban, who announced his retirement Wednesday after leading the Crimson Tide to six national championships in 17 seasons.

DeBoer signed an extension after going 11-2 in 2022, raising his salary to $4.2 million with incremental increases to $4.8 million in the last year of the contract in 2028. It also included an increased buyout of $12 million if DeBoer left for a new job.

Washington offered a seven-year deal worth an average of $9.4 million annually to keep DeBoer, the person with knowledge of the situation said.

Athletic director Troy Dannen has said he first approached the coach about a new contract in October, soon after leaving Tulane for the Washington job.

Washington scheduled a team meeting for around 1:30 p.m. PT, according to a different person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because it was a private team meeting.

DeBoer hired high-powered agent Jimmy Sexton, who also represents Saban, last year. Saban received an eight-year deal in 2022 worth at least $93.6 million, including some $11.1 million this year.

DeBoer had a scheduled in-studio appearance with KJR-FM — Washington’s flagship station — scheduled for Friday morning. The station announced about two hours prior to the appearance that DeBoer would not be coming on the air.

The fast-rising DeBoer led the Huskies to a 14-1 record that included a Pac-12 championship before losing to No. 1 Michigan 34-13 in the national title game. He was named The Associated Press coach of the year.

DeBoer led the Huskies to a 25-3 record in two seasons after taking over a program that was 4-8 in 2021.

DeBoer led his alma mater Sioux Falls to a 67-3 record from 2005-09 and won three NAIA championships at the small, Baptist-affiliated school in South Dakota’s largest city. He later had immediate success at Fresno State, going 12-6 in two seasons from 2020-21.

At Alabama, he would replace a coach who won a major college record seven national titles, including one at LSU. The Crimson Tide have been in national title contention just about every season since winning their first in 17 seasons back in 2009, Saban’s third year.

Alabama’s short-term expectations won’t change with a team led by quarterback Jalen Milroe and a roster fortified by a string of highly rated recruiting classes.

DeBoer coached Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Penix Jr. last season and brings an offensive track record to replace Saban, a former NFL defensive coordinator. He was Fresno State’s offensive coordinator in the 2017 and 2018 seasons and held the same job at Indiana for a year before replacing Jeff Tedford.

DeBoer was an All-America receiver at Sioux Falls who helped the Cougars win their first national championship in 1996. He then stayed on as receivers coach, returning in 2000 as offensive coordinator after a stint as a high school coach in Sioux Falls.