UW Huskies’ Kalen DeBoer officially hired as Alabama head coach
Jan 12, 2024, 11:26 AM | Updated: 4:59 pm
(Ian Maule/Getty Images)
The No. 2 UW Huskies are losing a ton of players to the NFL Draft this year, and they’re also losing their head coach.
Kalen DeBoer has been named the next head coach at Alabama after the retirement of Hall of Fame coach Nick Saban. DeBoer has been at Washington the past two seasons, both of which were very successful.
Alabama officially announced the hire Friday evening.
Welcome Coach, @KalenDeBoer
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) January 13, 2024
“We are excited to welcome Kalen and Nicole DeBoer, and their daughters, Alexis and Avery, to The University of Alabama,” said Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne in a news release. “Coach DeBoer has proven he is a winner and has done an incredible job as a head coach at each of his stops. 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. We are grateful to our leadership in President Stuart Bell, Chancellor Finis St. John and The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees for their support during this process.”
DeBoer also made a comment in the announcement.
“I have always had an incredible respect for Alabama football and its commitment to excellence,” DeBoer said. “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. I want to thank Director of Athletics Greg Byrne, President Stuart R. Bell, Chancellor Finis St. John and The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees for their belief in me to lead this program.”
Washington leadership also made statements about DeBoer’s departure.
“Kalen DeBoer led a remarkable run for UW Football and showed the world that we are capable of competing at the very highest level,” UW president Ana Mari Cauce said in a statement. “We are disappointed that he chose to leave, but he has left us a strong foundation to build on, both on and off the field, and we wish him the best of luck at Alabama. We’ll start an immediate search for the next leader of UW Football – someone who can build on these successes as we enter the Big Ten and ensure the long-term excellence of our program.”
“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,” athletic director Troy Dannen said. “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, Nicole, Alexis and Avery the very best in their new endeavor.
“We have one of the best head coaching jobs in all of college football, with our recent success, our upcoming entry into the premier intercollegiate athletics conference, the Big Ten, our passionate supporters and fanbase, and a world-class university. Our search for a new head coach is underway and I am excited about what comes next for Husky Football.”
The move was first reported by ESPN Pete Thamel Friday morning, saying DeBoer was “on the cusp of getting the Alabama job.” Thamel reported that Washington made a “strong push” to keep DeBoer and offered him an extension that would have made him one of the 10 highest-paid coaches in the nation.
DeBoer, 49, took over as head coach of the UW Huskies in November 2021 to replace Jimmy Lake, who Washington had fired in the midst of a 4-8 season, his second as coach.
DeBoer quickly turned things around, bringing quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to UW and going 11-2 in 2022. DeBoer and company followed that up with a 12-0 regular season, a Pac-12 Championship victory, a Sugar Bowl win over Texas, and a National Championship game appearance against Michigan as part of a 14-1 season in 2023. DeBoer leaves Washington having gone a combined 25-3.
Saban, a seven-time national championship coach, retired on Wednesday, the same day it was announced that Pete Carroll would no longer be coaching the Seahawks. That quickly started a rumor mill of who Alabama would hire to succeed arguably the greatest coach in college football history.
After Oregon head coach Dan Lanning, a former Alabama assistant, announced that he would be staying with the Ducks, DeBoer’s name surfaced as one of the favorites to land the job on Thursday. That picked up even more steam when Mike Norvell signed a new contract with Florida State and Steve Sarkisian, another former Saban assistant, announced he’d be staying at Texas.
Dannen told Adam Breneman’s podcast recently that a new contract offer had been on the table for DeBoer to sign for quite some time, but that DeBoer was focused on the team’s playoff run. Dannen, who recently replaced Jen Cohen as Washington AD and did not hire DeBoer, will now have to figure out who the next head coach of the UW Huskies will be. Making things all the more interesting is 2024 will be Washington’s first year in the Big Ten, a move that DeBoer was reportedly a big proponent of.