When Kalen DeBoer announced that he’d be leaving Washington for Alabama, there was no question that there would be a domino effect. This is very normal in college sports. When a coach leaves, another coach has to take their spot, and so on and so forth, until a team hires an assistant or internally.
Kalen DeBoer is the New Head Coach at Alabama pic.twitter.com/rZMjCeUiFx
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 12, 2024
Up until recently, that was about the extent of it. But that is no longer the case. But this isn’t just any coaching hire; this is Alabama and Washington, a dynasty team and a team that just played for a National Championship. This is West Coast offense going to the South which is known for running just about the opposite style of offense than what DeBoer may be bringing. Finally, this is happening in the era of the transfer portal and NIL.
In other words, this very well may end up being the biggest domino effect we’ve ever seen in college sports.
Effect on Coaches
The most obvious first domino to fall is going to be finding a replacement for Kalen Deboer at Washington. While it’s possible that they hire internally and the damage stops there on the coaching front, the Washington job has become very attractive with the team now entering the Big 10, which means much more money and opportunity.
Odds are, and early reports are showing that the next head coach will likely come from another school although there are some interesting scenarios where someone like Pete Carroll or current offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb get the job.
Some more likely options include current Arizona Head Coach Jedd Fisch, UNLV HC Barry Odom, or Liberty’s Jamey Chadwell. If and when this happens, the same process will start over again and more coaches will be brought in from other schools.
Effect on Players
We’ve already seen some effects starting with Rome Odzune and Dillon Johnson declaring for the NFL Draft. While they may have declared regardless, the DeBoer announcement certainly sped up the process. Because both Alabama and Washington are now going to have new head coaches, both teams now get an extra 30 days for players to enter the transfer portal.
Again, going back to the coaching domino effect, this would also potentially happen at Arizona, Liberty, UNLV, or any other school that gets a new head coach as well.
In just the case of Washington and Alabama, Washington played in the National Championship game, proving that many of their players are good enough to come with DeBoer to Alabama. Additionally, Washington runs the West Coast offense which favors short slants, quick reads, and uptempo pacing. Alabama historically runs a run-heavy offense that utilizes the passing game in more deep shots to set up the run and catch defenses off guard. DeBoer may love Alabama’s current players, but a 5-star deep threat receiver may not be as valuable to his offense as a 4-star slot receiver who can catch the slant and make guys miss.
It doesn’t seem like an unrealistic expectation to believe that as many as 20 players from each team may end up transferring because of this, as well as following assistant coaches to wherever they end up. Already seven UW players have entered the portal since the news broke. Take a wild guess where they may end up?
What happens when an Alabama player goes to another team? They push someone else out and then that players enters the transfer portal. And the domino effect continues.
Bringing the DeBoer/Saban Effect All Together
When all of this is settled, there could potentially be four to five head coaches who end up at a different school, hundreds of players hit the transfer portal, and depth charts all over the country being effected. Now, imagine if Jim Harbaugh decides to leave Michigan for the NFL. We may have a completely different-looking sport next year! But before we get ahead of ourselves, the fact remains the same, change is coming. The coaching carousel and transfer portal effects are going to change rosters and how we view the hierarchy more than what we’ve seen at any other point in the past 25 years.
That’s the nature of today’s college football. That is the power that Nick Saban really had.
Get More Football Content