‘Opportunity of lifetime’: DeBoer takes over Tide

Sports

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, has agreed to a deal to become the next head coach at Alabama, sources told ESPN on Friday.

DeBoer informed the Huskies on Friday he is leaving for Alabama, sources told ESPN’s Pete Thamel, and a deal is expected to be made official later in the day.

DeBoer, 49, would inherit one of the most coveted jobs in college football — and one of the most difficult — in replacing 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.

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

DeBoer would owe Washington a $12 million buyout if he leaves. He signed 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 their commitments to their current schools over the past two days.

Washington hired DeBoer to resurrect its program after the Huskies went 4-8 in Jimmy Lake’s second season as coach in 2021. With Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr. orchestrating Washington’s high-flying offense, the Huskies more than doubled their victory total during an 11-2 campaign in 2022.

This past season, Washington went 12-0 during the regular season and defeated rival Oregon for a second time, 34-31 in the Pac-12 championship game, to reach the CFP for the second time in school history. The Huskies beat Texas 37-31 in a CFP semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Washington lost to No. 1 Michigan 34-13 in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T.

DeBoer’s hiring at Alabama would be the apex of a meteoric rise in coaching over the past few seasons for him. A record-setting receiver at the University of Sioux Falls, an NAIA program in his home state of South Dakota, DeBoer became head coach of his alma mater in 2005. Over the next five seasons, his teams went 67-3 and won three NAIA national championships (in 2006, 2008 and 2009). The Cougars went 17-2 in the NAIA playoffs during DeBoer’s tenure.

After working as an offensive coordinator at Southern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Fresno State and Indiana, DeBoer replaced Jeff Tedford as Fresno State’s coach in 2020. The Bulldogs went 3-3 in the COVID-19-delayed season in 2020, then improved to 9-3 in his second season, which included upset wins over nationally ranked UCLA and San Diego State.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel contributed to this report.

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