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OPINION: 3 reasons why Kalen DeBoer will win first national championship at Alabama faster than Nick Saban did

Alabama head coach Kalen DeBoer speaks with the media at the Crimson Tide's Pro Day
Gary Cosby Jr.- Tuscaloosa News / USA TODAY NETWORK

Pressure to win and win consistently is everywhere in college football, but the University of Alabama brings a different pressure.

Ray Perkins and Bill Curry had a difficult time following a legend such as Paul W. “Bear” Bryant; however, Eugene “Gene” Stallings answered the call in 1992 with a national championship.

Nick Saban came to the Crimson Tide when it had slipped completely from winning titles and restored the program to national prominence.

Kalen DeBoer, 49, told everyone at Bryant-Denny Stadium in his introductory press conference on January 13 that Alabama was the only program he would have left Washington for. His words pleased everyone, but will his actions produce a national championship for the Crimson Tide quicker than Saban did? Saban had a build a program up with at least 13 players from the Mike Shula era. He had to turn the Tide into the gold standard. DeBoer inherits a very talented roster, but he does have the credentials to continue Alabama’s winning tradition.

RELATED: Has Kalen DeBoer already proven he is an elite recruiter in the SEC?

DeBoer has been a champion at the NAIA level (Sioux Falls) and Pac-12 level (Washington), but now he’s taking flight in the Southeastern Conference. Greg McElroy, a former Alabama quarterback, gave DeBoer a 75 percent chance to win a national championship this season.

He can win a national title quicker than Saban, and here are three reasons why he will.

1. Kalen DeBoer has the right coaching staff to lead the Tide

People may not see it this way, but Nick Saban’s retirement from coaching Alabama football may have been the best move for the program.

DeBoer has hired a staff that has motivated players and kept the hunger going.

It has been three years since the Tide has won a national championship, which was the longest drought of the Saban era. Alabama players are tired of national media pundit over looking them, and the new coaches are embracing the “LANK” mentality.

DeBoer’s staff is more than excited to prove it can excel at the most significant institution in college football.

Names such as Nick Sheridan, JaMarcus Shephard, Bryan Ellis, Chris Kapilovic, Kane Wommack, Christian Robinson, Maurice Linguist, and Colin Hitschler have hit the ground running in recruiting, building relationships, and coaching current players.

RELATED: WATCH: Alabama QB Ty Simpson dropping dimes in off-season training

DeBoer has coaches invested in the players and invested in becoming champions quickly. It took DeBoer three years to turn Washington from a 4-8 program in 2021 to a Pac-12 Champion and CFP National Championship appearance in 2023. 

Saban became a national champion at Alabama in three years, but DeBoer can do it faster with the game transitioned more to offense. Saban has mentioned a few times that the Tide is in good hands with DeBoer and his staff. He is gleaning wisdom from Saban, yet he is prepared to show everyone that his staff will deliver a national championship quicker than Saban.

2. Alabama will have an offense explosive enough to win a national title

Alabama had a lot of athletes leave the program via the NCAA transfer portal when Saban announced his retirement, but several core players remained to buy into DeBoer’s vision.

The Tide has four quarterbacks — including Jalen Milroe as the returning starter.

Ty Simpson looked great in the spring game, showing the offensive coaching staff he can run the system if needed.

DeBoer has arguably the best running back room in the nation with Justice Haynes, Jam Miller, Richard Young, Daniel Hill (freshman), and Kevin Riley (freshman). Haynes and Miller will be a great one, two punch. Haynes provides the physicality between the tackles with speed in open space, but Miller gives versatility as a receiver and can make this offense very dynamic.

Young enters his second season in the program and has all the tools needed to be successful.

Hill and Riley could redshirt, but both would be ready if needed. Alabama graduated JC Latham to the National Football League, but it has leaders back on the offensive line in Tyler Booker and Jaeden Roberts. Parker Brailsford, a transfer from Washington, is expected to start at center and Kadyn Proctor is back at left tackle.

The right tackle position will be interesting between Elijah Pritchett, Wilkin Formby, Miles McVay, and Geno VanDeMark (transfer from Michigan State).

Pritchett has the most experience as a tackle, but Formby performed well throughout spring practice. VanDeMark has eight games of experience last year for the Spartans, but the starting lineup could be Proctor, Booker, Brailsford, Roberts, and Pritchett from left to right. Alabama’s wide receiver room is talented, but it needs to prove itself. Kobe Prentice has the most experience, but Kendrick Law, Emmanuel Henderson, Jaren Hamilton, Cole Adams, and Jalen Hale (recovering from knee injury) all have talent.

Caleb Odom, a five-star freshman, moved from tight end to receiver and showed promise in spring practice. Ryan Williams, a five-star freshman, can take the top off opposing defensive secondaries and fans believe he’s the one that will separate this offense from others.

Germie Bernard, a transfer from Washington, had a very good spring. He led all receivers on A-Day with three catches for 122 yards at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The tight end position has talent as well with CJ Dippre, Danny Lewis Jr., Ty Lockwood, Jay Lindsey, Josh Cuevas, and Robbie Ouzts.

DeBoer got the tight end position involved at Washington, but it will be interesting to see what happens at Alabama.

3. Alabama’s defense will be better than expected

Alabama fans were hurt to lose Caleb Downs, but the defense will be better than expected.

Kane Wommack has brought in a 4-2-5 system that players have caught on to well. The Crimson Tide did basic things in the spring game, but it showed a lot of different looks in practice.

Malachi Moore, a fifth-year defensive back, will captain this defensive unit. The Trussville (Ala.) native takes this team personal because he knows how special an opportunity will be to capture a national championship in his final year. Alabama also has DeVonta Smith, Keon Sabb (transfer from Michigan), Domani Jackson (transfer from USC), Jahlil Hurley, Zabien Brown, Zavier Mincey, Dre Kirkpatrick Jr., and Jaylen Mbakwe.

The Tide brought over three defensive backs from the transfer portal, including DaShawn Jones (Wake Forest) and King Mack (Penn State).

Alabama has depth at inside linebacker behind Deontae Lawson and Jihaad Campbell. Jeremiah Alexander, Justin Okonrokwo, Justin Jefferson, and Sterling Dixon all did well in the spring.

The outside linebacker position has a chance to be really good behind Quandarrius Robinson.

Christian Robinson, Alabama’s outside linebackers coach, has Keanu Koht, Yhonzae Pierre, and Qua Russaw to coach. Koht looks to have an explosive campaign, but Pierre and Russaw are dawgs to be unleashed. 

Wommack’s 4-2-5 will go as far as the defensive line takes it. 

Tim Kennan III, Jehiem Oatis, James Smith, Tim Smith, Jah-Marien Latham, Damon Payne, and the defensive line rotation have to shut the middle down. If the Tide pops out guys that play like Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, A’Shawn Robinson, Jarrran Reed, and Quinnen Williams did, Wommack’s system will be lethal. Kevin Steele got the engine revved back to being great with what he did in 2023, but this defense in the fall will be better than what most expect. This defense is good enough to get a national title.

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Stephen M. Smith is the senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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