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Former Fresno State Coach Kalen DeBoer Will Succeed Nick Saban at Alabama: AP Source

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Sources say that Alabama has hired Washington's Kalen DeBoer as Nick Saban's successor. DeBoer coached two seasons at Fresno State (2020-21), going 12-6. (AP/Eric Gay)
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Alabama wasted little time in finding Nick Saban’s successor, hiring Kalen DeBoer away from national runner-up Washington.

DeBoer, who coached at Fresno State in 2020 and 2021, signed a deal with Alabama on Friday to replace Saban, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither school had announced DeBoer’s decision. The agreement was first reported by ESPN.

The 49-year-old DeBoer is a former NAIA coach who led Washington to the national championship game in his second season. Now, he takes over a program where Saban made that kind of success an annual expectation.

While not confirming that DeBoer had been hired, Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne posted on X: “The plane has left Seattle.”

Replacing Saban

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.

DeBoer’s Career

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 before 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 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.

Replacing a Legend

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.

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