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Candidates to Replace Nick Saban as Head Coach at Alabama

One of the greatest to ever coach college football, if not the greatest coach, Nick Saban is retiring as head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Saban leaves behind one of the greatest legacies in college football by winning seven national championships, six with Alabama, five SEC Coach of the Year awards, and 297 career wins. Saban’s legacy will be remembered and celebrated throughout the offseason. Now the Alabama Crimson Tide has a huge task out of them of finding their next head coach for an incredibly talented team coming back for another run for a National Championship. There are going to be some high-volume coaches that will be put on the shortlist of Saban’s replacement. Here is the short list of candidates to become the next head coach at Alabama.

Candidates to Replace Nick Saban as Head Coach at Alabama

Kirby Smart – Georgia Head Coach

The talks of Kirby Smart becoming the next head coach of Alabama have been circulating since the Georgia Bulldogs got to the national championship game in January of 2018. Since then, Smart has been one of the best collegiate coaches winning two consecutive national championships and being named SEC Coach of the Year three times. Smart served under Saban since 2006 with the Miami Dolphins and was the defensive coordinator for the Tide from 2008 to 2015. He is Saban’s greatest former assistant. It will take a lot for him to leave his alma mater, where he won a national title, but Alabama has the money and legacy to try.

Steve Sarkisian – Texas Head Coach

Another former Saban assistant the Tide could shoot for is Steve Sarkisian. In just three short years, he brought Texas from a bottom-tier Big 12 team to being “back.” In seriousness, the turnaround in his three years with the Longhorns is tremendous. Sarkisian would inherit one of the most talented rosters in college football already and could bring in more youth and energy. He is an offensive genius who developed elite offenses in his two seasons as offensive coordinator in 2019 and 2020. Alabama is neither a step up nor a step down from Alabama, but the money talks.

Mike Vrabel – Former Tennessee Titans Head Coach

One of the most shocking NFL firings just after the regular season is Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. His firing on Tuesday shocked not only Titan fans but also the entire football world. He got the best out of the Titans but was run into the ground by management, with the worst being the trade of wide receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Vrabel can easily coach any open position in the NFL but has been rumored to be looking into the Ohio State head coach position, currently held by Ryan Day. Vrabel can follow in Saban’s footsteps by going from a head coaching position in the NFL to the coaching level. The 2021 NFL Coach of the Year accumulated an overall record of 54-45 in his six years at Tennessee. Vrabel is an excellent go-to when it comes to game day preparations, film study, relationships with his players, and developing them into high-level playmakers. He is a coach that all Alabama fans want from the NFL.

Kalen DeBoer – Washington Head Coach

Kalen DeBoer has had a quick rise to the top coach of college football. After two quick seasons at Fresno State, DeBour quickly turned the Washington Huskies into one of the most explosive teams. In the 2022 and 2023 seasons, DeBoer has combined for an overall record of 25-3. He coached the Huskies into the national championship game this season. He took over a program that suffered serious off-the-field conduct from their previous head coach. DeBoer not only brought respect to the Washington program but championship contending hopes.

Dan Lanning – Oregon Head Coach

Another potential Pac-12 head coach that will be on Alabama’s shortlist is former Georgia Bulldogs defensive coordinator and current Oregon Ducks head coach Dan Lanning. His resume in coaching is remarkable because he’s only 37 years old. He started his collegiate career in 2011 and made his way throughout the country. Lanning was a part of the 2015 national championship-winning team at Alabama when he was a graduate assistant. After coaching outside linebackers for the 2018 season at Georgia, he was promoted to defensive coordinator where he would create elite defenses from 2019 to 2021. Just in his two seasons at Oregon, Lanning has accounted for an overall record of 22-5. This includes a conference championship berth this season.

Wild Cards for the next head coach at Alabama

There are going to be a lot of other names that would be in contention for head coach at Alabama. Among the biggest wild card candidates that should be considered is Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin. To this day, Kiffin has not burned bridges with the University of Alabama nor disrespected the program after he left. His relevance with Alabama and respect for Saban makes him a great candidate to be the next coach.

If Alabama wanted another SEC candidate to look for, they could turn to Missouri head coach Elijah Drinkwitz. After three seasons of trying to get the Tigers out for the middle of the pack of the SEC, Drinkwitz turned them into a serious contender for the SEC East, propelled them to an overall record of 11-2, and defeated Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl this season.

Another coach who has been in consideration for the head coaching position for several years includes Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. Swinney would get a solid chance to coach his way to a third national championship, this time at his alma mater. He has accumulated an overall record of 170-43 in 15 and a half seasons at Clemson.

Two final longshot candidates to take over Saban at Alabama include Florida State head coach Mike Norvell and Penn State head coach James Franklin. Norvell has brought relevance back to the Seminoles program which was near the bottom tier of the ACC. There might be hostility against Alabama for keeping Florida State out of the playoffs this season, however. Franklin has accumulated an overall record of 88-39 in his ten years at Penn State. However, he receives criticism for not winning the big games like Michigan or Ohio State. As soon as we know the heir to Crimson Tide football we will let you know.

Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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