Every competent Athletic Director is always ready to replace a head football or men's basketball coach. That is even true when the exiting coach is college football's all-time GOAT.
Nick Saban surprised Alabama football fans but he did not blindside Greg Byrne. When Byrne quickly began working he already had a prepared list of replacements. Input from Nck Saban was important, but it is unlikely Saban had a role broader than advisory. Even if Greg Byrne had been willing to include him in the process to select 'the guy' Nick Saban is too professional to have done so.
On Wednesday, Greg Byrne stated in preparation for a day he wanted to never come, he vetted probably "a couple of dozen coaches over the years" but of course, none of them could be fairly measured by a Nick Saban standard.
At the same time, Byrne would have known that, as Alabama football insiders have said, Steve Sarkisian was the guy Saban preferred as his successor. From that basis, Sarkisian must have been approached first. At the start of the search, almost every prediction was Texas would not let Sark leave. There were later rumors that Sarkisian was interested and became a real possibility.
Greg Byrne didn't wait for the Sark deliberation to play out. There was broad speculation that Dan Lanning and later Mike Norvell were offered the Alabama job. Reading the tea leaves, it seems while the two were serious targets, and conversations occurred, no actual offers were made to either man.
To the extent either Lanning or Norvell had an interest, Oregon and FSU powerbrokers gave them reasons to not leave Eugene and Tallahassee.
One coach Byrne vetted, but until last Thursday, had never met was Kalen DeBoer. Less than 72 hours earlier, DeBoer's Washington had played in the National Championship Game. Byrne is known for quick action. When he was at Mississippi State, he met Dan Mullen for the first and decided to hire him during that first interview.
Byrne and DeBoer connected. If DeBoer was not the Tide's top target when Byrne arrived in Seattle, that quickly changed. Maybe a door was still cracked for Sarkisian but that door closed on Friday and Kalen DeBoer accepted the University of Alabama offer.
We don't know and Byrne will never publicly say, but the Alabama job may not have been offered to more than two guys; Steve Sarkisian and Kalen DeBoer.
Snatching Sark from Texas would have been great, but two or three years from now Kalen DeBoer may prove he was the best option.