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The Indiana Daily Student

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Former IU football offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer tabbed Saban’s successor at Alabama

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Former Indiana football offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer agreed to become the head coach at the University of Alabama, per an Alabama Athletics release Friday. 

DeBoer will head to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after a pair of seasons at the helm of the University of Washington, notably reuniting with former Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. In two seasons in Seattle, DeBoer went 25-3, reaching the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 8.  

DeBoer began his head coaching career at the University of Sioux Falls — a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics program. In five seasons at the helm, he attained a 67-3 record alongside three NAIA national championships and three national Coach of the Year awards. 

Former Indiana head coach Tom Allen hired DeBoer on Jan. 21, 2019, to become the associate head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Allen notably mentioned DeBoer’s ability to take offenses to new heights under his direction. 

DeBoer did just that in his lone season in Bloomington. The Hoosiers averaged 31.8 points per game in 2019 — 43rd of 130 Division I programs — just one season removed from 26.4 points per game prior to his arrival.  

Despite Indiana losing to the University of Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in its final game of the season, the Hoosiers finished with an 8-5 record — winning 8 games for the first time since 1993. 

After a historic season at Indiana, DeBoer became the head coach at Fresno State University. He went 3-3 in his first season in command, leading his squad through a season impacted by COVID. In 2021, he led the Bulldogs to a 9-3 regular season record alongside a bowl victory. 

On Nov. 29, 2021, Washington hired DeBoer to become its head coach. After announcing his intention to transfer from Indiana, Penix Jr. committed to Washington on Dec. 14, 2021, giving DeBoer a familiar face at quarterback. 

In his first season in Seattle in 2022, DeBoer led the Huskies — coming off a 4-8 season — to an 11-2 record headlined with three victories over Top 25 teams. 

In 2023, DeBoer guided Washington to a perfect 12-0 record in the regular season alongside a victory over the University of Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship. For the second time in the 10-year existence of the College Football Playoff, the Huskies were chosen by the CFP selection committee as one of the top four teams. 

DeBoer and Penix Jr. held on late to a 37-31 victory over the University of Texas in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 to advance to the national championship game, eventually falling to Michigan on Jan. 8. 

Former Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced he was retiring Wednesday, immediately opening one of college football’s premier head coaching vacancies. Despite many coaches being rumored to be interested in succeeding Saban, Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne decided to hire DeBoer on Friday. 

"I have always had an incredible respect for Alabama football and its commitment to excellence," DeBoer said in the release. "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.” 

DeBoer will now turn his attention to building his roster for his first season at the helm of the Crimson Tide in 2024.

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