The incredible year for Alabama Crimson Tide Athletics

Clemson v Alabama
Clemson v Alabama / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

On January 10th, Nick Saban announced his retirement from coaching just nine days after the Alabama Football team lost the Rose Bowl. Many questioned what the future would look like for the program after losing the biggest name in college sports. Losing Saban meant what seemed like a step down in both recruiting and coaching ability.

The impact of Nick Saban's retirement was felt nearly immediately with players like Ryan Williams, Jamie Ffrench, Javion Hilson, Zion Grady, Mason Short, and Antonio Coleman de-commiting. The Tide would see several key pieces enter the transfer portal as well with Caleb Downs, Kadyn Proctor, and Isaiah Bond entering the transfer portal.

Two days after the retirement of Nick Saban, Greg Byrne identified the man best fit to lead the program in Washington Head Coach Kalen DeBoer. Kalen DeBoer would have never been picked by many given his West Coast roots and lack of history in the SEC however, it was a slam dunk hire with DeBoer's 104-12 career record.

While it may have taken a brief period for players to buy in many started to see the vision of Kalen DeBoer. The first test for DeBoer was re-landing Saraland Wide Receiver Ryan Williams the eighth-ranked player in the country. The first battle was a statement win for DeBoer beating out Auburn, Texas, Texas A&M, and several other suitors for Williams. After being hired, Kalen DeBoer has gotten other key pieces back into the program with Kadyn Proctor and Antonio Coleman while he still may end up landing a few of the 2025 and 2026 recruits.

When DeBoer took the job the Alabama Football program had the second-ranked recruiting class for 2024, which he'd keep by retaining a majority of the class while bringing in Zion Grady. The 2025 recruiting class was ranked in the 30's by nearly every major publication which DeBoer has now built into one of the top ten classes in the country.

While Greg Byrne will be judged for his hiring of Kalen DeBoer his biggest slam dunk of a hire was Nate Oats. After a Sweet Sixteen appearance where Brandon Miller took over College Basketball becoming the second overall pick in the NBA Draft, the Tide entered the season with lower expectations. The Tide entered the season as the 24th-ranked team in the AP Poll and the fifth-ranked team in the SEC.

After Oats lost five of his sixth-highest scorers and his three assistant coaches a step back was to be expected. At many times this looked to be the case too as the Alabama Basketball team limped into March losing four of its final six games and squandering a regular season SEC Championship. The Tide's defense looked like it would lead to an early March exit after a disappointing showing in the SEC Tournament. With major programs calling Greg Byrne locked his best hire up on a massive contract extension keeping Oats in Tuscaloosa long-term.

It's hard to believe that Oats or Byrne saw what would happen in the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide held serve against Charleston and Grand Canyon in the opening round of the tournament returning to the Sweet Sixteen for the third time in Oats tenure. North Carolina stood in the way of Alabama's second-ever trip of the Elite Eight. Nate Oats slayed the blue blood before beating Clemson advancing the Tide to its first ever final four.

The Alabama Basketball team sits just two games away from a National Championship, something that was never imaginable prior to Nate Oats' arrival in Tuscaloosa. In just five seasons in Tuscaloosa, Nate Oats has solidified himself as the greatest coach in Alabama Basketball history.

Bryne faced what could have been the most difficult test in 2023 as baseball coach Brad Bohannon found himself embroiled in an illegal gambling scandal. The Alabama Baseball team picked Maryland's Greg Byrne as their next coach. The two-time Big Ten coach of the year is off to an incredible start at Alabama with a 21-7 record taking an unranked team in the preseason to the 11th ranked team.

The Alabama Athletics program is on an incredible run in the three major men's sports so far and plenty of the credit should be given to Greg Byrne. Athletic directors don't get to coach or recruit yet, the results of the games are placed just as much on their record as the head coaches. There's still plenty left to be seen but, to this point Greg Byrne is having a nearly perfect year.