The Alabama Football program is all about championships. Suddenly with Nick Saban's retirement, some suggest the Crimson Tide's championship progression has thudded to a halt. One reason for such an assessment is pent-up jealousy. In the four-team CFP era, no team matched Alabama with Playoff appearances and National Championships.
There are also logical reasons to doubt the Crimson Tide. College football's conventional wisdom is head coaches who follow legends struggle so often, that they can be thought of as sacrificial place-holders before another transition.
Fortunately for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Kalen DeBoer ignored all such noise. He left a great situation in Seattle for what he sees as an exceptional opportunity in Tuscaloosa.
College football pundits, abetted by some Crimson Tide fans, placed DeBoer low on the list as the best successor to Nick Saban. To some Bama fans, Kirby Smart was the best choice (even though he was never leaving Georgia). Other top picks were Steve Sarkisian, Lane Kiffin, and Dan Lanning. From the national media (and far less among Alabama fans) there was Mike Norvell.
To the good fortune of the Alabama program, Greg Byrne did not get distracted by outside input. Bryne wisely listened to Nick Saban and he consulted with Stuart Bell. But Byrne was a search committee of one.
The choice of DeBoer surprised many Alabama fans. Some were vocally disappointed. Much of the discomfort came not from what was known about DeBoer, but what was not known. Despite the rocky roster turnover, many Tide fans have begun to understand Greg Byrne made the right decision.
Initially only a few 'experts' praised the hiring. That too has changed. Writing for CBS Sports, Tom Fornelli graded second-year head coaches. Arbitrarily let's define the coaches lower than a 'B' grade as failing. Of the 14 head coaches rated, eight had grades from 'D' to 'B-'. The two with 'D' grades are Lincoln Riley and Billy Napier. Mario Cristobal fared only a little better with a 'D+' grade.
Also in the failing distinction, in the range of 'C-' to 'B-' are Tony Elliot (UVA), Jake Dickert ( Wash, St.), Brent Venable (Oklahoma), Joey McQuire (Texas Tech) and Brent Pry (Virginia Tech).
Doing better, but below the top group are Notre Dame's Marcus Freeman (B), Oregon's Dan Lanning (B+) and LSU's Brian Kelly (B+).
Alabama Football - Kalen DeBoer Detractors
Three of the 14 coaches graded A- or higher. They are TCU's Sonny Dykes (A-), former Duke coach (now at Texas A&M) Mike Elko (A) and Alabama's Kalen DeBoer with an A+ grade from his two seasons at Washington.
Those who remain detractors of Kalen DeBoer may argue he lacks championship pedigree. In response, let's compare the coaches who have taken teams to the Playoff. Only six active head coaches have ever won a Playoff game. The six are Kirby Smart, Dabo Swinney, Jim Harbaugh, Ryan Day, Sonny Dykes and DeBoer.
How many Alabama fans would exchange DeBoer for Swinney, Harbaugh, Day, or Dykes is not known. A guess is few - and the few are decreasing with each passing day.