Alabama Hires Kalen DeBoer: What It Means for Texas A&M Football and the SEC

Alabama has made their choice of head coach. How does this affect Texas A&M football and the rest of the conference?

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer against the Michigan
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer against the Michigan / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Alabama Hires Kalen DeBoer To Succeed Saban; How It Affects Texas A&M Football

Earlier today, the news broke via ESPN and others that Alabama was in the final stages of negotiating a contract with Kalen DeBoer to replace Nick Saban as the next head coach of the Crimson Tide. DeBoer is one of the winningest coaches at any level of football, boasting an insane 104-12 record across his stints in Division 1 and NAIA.

Who Is Kalen DeBoer? What Texas A&M Football Fans Should Know

As such, this seems to be a home run for the Tide. DeBoer was a name that many Texas A&M football fans coveted during the Aggies' coaching search in November, but the timing was inopportune. The former Husky head coach was obviously leading Washington to a playoff berth at that point, and was refusing interviews. Given how imperative it was to find a replacement for Jimbo quickly in order to keep the roster together as well as possible, the Aggies moved on.

Regardless, there are areas of concern with this hire for Tide fans. Of the available candidates, DeBoer and Lanning seemed to be the two that fit the bill best for a job like Alabama. There are differences between them, of course, and ones that make it seem as though the coach who stayed at Oregon may have been a better analogue for Saban were the Tide able to land him.

Lanning has experience with the south, is a defensive-minded head coach, and is one of the best recruiters in the nation. DeBoer has never coached further south than Indiana, is an offensive-minded coach, and hasn't quite shown the recruiting chops you might hope for the head man of a top program. Of course, the recruiting angle was one that seemed to be a strike against Elko when A&M was considering him, and he has all but blown that narrative out of the water thus far.

The positive spin here for Tide fans is that DeBoer has made a habit of winning games even with the less-talented squad. At Alabama, it will hardly ever be the case that he will be at a talent disadvantage, barring an extreme regression in recruiting. Even so, there are legitimate question marks here. The pressures that come along with this job are well-documented, as was the aplomb with which Saban was able to handle them, wrangling order out of chaos. The good news there is that it appears Saban himself will be retained in a role that could help DeBoer with that tall task.

If history is any guide at all, however, even DeBoer, who boasts a winning percentage even better than that of the GOAT right now, will not be able to measure up to Saban. There has never been a case in modern college football where the guy after the guy has had the same amount of success. The closest was Lincoln Riley, who was basically an in-house promotion, and that ended up poorly for the Sooners.

As far as the Aggies are concerned, the effect on the recruiting trail, at least for this upcoming cycle, should be positive. Even if DeBoer puts together an amazing recruiting staff, it will be nigh-impossible to replicate the cache that Saban brought to these recruitments, and it should be plainly evident that there is a drop off in that regard from Saban to DeBoer anyway.

Texas A&M football doesn't play the Tide this year, so the on-field ramifications won't be directly seen by the Maroon and White faithful until at least 2025. DeBoer has his work cut out for him there, as the Tide host Georgia and Tennessee as well as travel to Oklahoma and LSU next year. Even a two-loss season will have the Tide fans in a tizzy, as those were few and far between under Saban.

In any case, this is a sea change in college football. The ripple effects will be massive in so many ways—for example, this provides an opening for the Aggies to poach another top assistant from the Tide after already stealing Holmon Wiggins away. Alabama's season will doubtless be one of the top storylines to follow in the sport next season, and I for one can't wait to see what awaits.

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