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6 Alabama football coaching candidates after Nick Saban’s retirement, plus 3 wild cards

The college football world has shifted once again, with news of Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s retirement shocking the nation. Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne now has the unenviable job of finding the next heir to the crimson throne, the successor to the greatest college football coach of all time.

Let’s set the stage first. The University of Alabama is one of the premier jobs in college football, but there are some flaws. The pros are this: with a passionate fanbase and a booster group that wants to win badly, recruiting seems like it would come easy. The assistant coaching pool looks to be deep, and they can offer money to big name assistants. The problem here is a couple things: first, the recruiting is changing under NIL. Saban publicly went after NIL multiple times, but it seemed more like he was sending a message to Alabama’s NIL fund. We’ve seen multiple starters transfer out in hopes of making more.

However, the biggest names in the sport should be up for this job … because it’s Alabama. Here are some of the top names you need to know.

The Heavy Favorites

Dan Lanning, Oregon

Brett McMurphy reports that Lanning is one of the favorites to replace Saban, and for good reason. Lanning came up through the Alabama coach development program, cut his teeth as defensive coordinator at Georgia and has only lost five games as head coach at the University of Oregon. Lanning knows the south and uses both high school and transfer portal recruiting, and with all of those in place he could be a very good coach at Alabama. The only drawback would be Oregon paying him a lot of money to stay, but could the biggest job in the sport call him back?

Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss

Kiffin is another hot name for the Alabama job, as he was one of Saban’s offensive coordinators that helped the Crimson Tide modernize their offense. However, Kiffin is at Ole Miss now, another SEC school that is willing to pay a lot to keep Kiffin around. I think Kiffin would want nothing more than to be the successor to the Saban era at Alabama, and it makes sense. Kiffin has won a lot of games at Ole Miss, and he’s used the transfer portal unlike any other coach in college football. However, Kiffin might not want to leave with the recruiting at Ole Miss looking the way it is. Kiffin is as unpredictable as any football coach ever, though. Never say never.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson

The kid from Pelham, AL comes home. That’s the pitch for Swinney as head coach of the Crimson Tide. He’s wanted this job for a while and the speculation was that when Saban eventually left, Swinney would get the call. Let’s break down some of the positives. Swinney has gotten the best out of almost every team he’s coached and won two national titles, beating Saban’s Crimson Tide twice to do it. However, Swinney’s image in the public eye has taken a hit, as has his recruiting. Once a huge plus, Clemson’s recruiting has fallen off, and with the lack of transfer portal usage being next to nonexistent, that could scare off athletic directors. If he gets the job, the question is will he use the portal? Saban did it, but can Swinney?

Other big name contenders

Kalen DeBoer, Washington

DeBoer is coming off a near-perfect season culminating in the national championship game appearance. The offense is easy to come by, and we’ve seen his success in the transfer portal (see: Michael Penix Jr.). However, I think the odds of him leaving Washington are really low. With the Big Ten on the horizon and more money coming in, DeBoer going from an area he knows into the heart of the south would be a massive jump. Maybe he’s ready, but maybe he wants to keep his footprint in the Pacific Northwest available.

Mike Norvell, Florida State

Norvell has turned around Florida State in three years through fantastic transfer portal movement and development of guys that were already there. Players seem to love Norvell and with Alabama’s pull, he could improve in recruiting out of high school with the Crimson Tide. Norvell would be somewhat of an uninspiring hire, however.

Steve Sarkisian, Texas

How fitting would it be for Sark to go back to the place that revamped his coaching career right before Texas goes to the SEC? Sarkisian knows the south and has recruited really well at a big name school. His work in the trenches has been especially good, with multiple offensive line and defensive line recruits being brought in. In addition, Sark would bring a major pool of assistants and one of the most creative, NFL-style offenses in college football we’ve seen. Texas won’t let him leave without offering a hefty bag, though.

Don’t even think about it

Kirby Smart, Georgia

Lol. Lmao.

Deion Sanders, Colorado

I doubt Alabama even considers Sanders, especially with the way the Buffaloes fell apart down the stretch.

James Franklin, Penn State

I don’t think he’s even getting a call. Franklin has recruited well, but his record against Ohio State and Michigan lacks a lot of…wins.

Who is most likely to be the next Alabama football coach?

I’d rank them like this:

  1. Dan Lanning
  2. Lane Kiffin
  3. Dabo Swinney
  4. Steve Sarkisian

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