ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 02: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 27-24 in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 02, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Alabama Coaching Candidates After Nick Saban Retires

Nick Saban is retiring, and now the Alabama Crimson Tide have to figure out who will replace one of the all-time greats as their next head coach.

The legendary Alabama coach had more players drafted in the first round than total losses. He won a remarkable six of his seven total national championships with the Crimson Tide, and will be remembered as the greatest coach in the history of the college game.

So if you're Alabama, where do you go from here? There's obviously no replacing Saban, but someone has to lead the program. Who might that be? Let's break down a few candidates for one of the most desirable and surprising job openings in the world of sports.

Tommy Rees

Let's start with a name that probably isn't Alabama's top choice, but would be simple and straightforward, and is someone Saban himself clearly trusts. Rees is currently the offensive coordinator at Alabama, and did a great job this year.

The offense looked awful to start out, and Rees made great adjustments all season, eventually steering the Tide to a major upset of Georgia. Most notably, the season saw a major turnaround from quarterback Jalen Milroe, a good sign for any future quarterback Rees may need to develop. The issue here is a lack of experience. Reese has been a coordinator for just the one season, so he's not the most likely candidate.

Lane Kiffin

Is Alabama about to hop back on the Lane Train? Kiffin has familiarity with the program after serving as the offensive coordinator for four seasons back in the early years of the CFP era, and of course, and he has plenty of background in terms of running his own teams.

Kiffin's USC tenure was a bit of an up-and-down experience, but he did great work at Florida Atlantic, and has Ole Miss looking like one of the top contenders in the new SEC. As a former Saban assistant, Kiffin has already proven his mettle in Tuscaloosa and surely still knows several people inside the building, although it's fair to wonder how many bridges he burned on the way out.

Dabo Swinney

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 8:   Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers, left, and head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide pose for a photograph after speaking to members of the media during the College Football Playoff National Championship Head Coaches Press Conference on January 8, 2017 at the Tampa Convention Center in

Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The question here is if Alabama would really bring in someone who served as their nemesis for so long. But let's not forget; Saban won a national championship as the head coach for LSU, so the answer is an emphatic "probably, yeah."

While Swinney will never get fired from Clemson after bringing the school its first two national titles in many years, it's clear to see that the partnership is beginning to wear thin. He's not willing to leverage the transfer portal, but at a school with Alabama's recruiting pull, you don't really need to do so. He's clearly a strong football mind, and as an Alabama alum, he could have some important supporters.

That being said, some Alabama fans are already being very vocal about the team not trying to go after Swinney.

Kalen DeBoer

All DeBoer does is win. He started out in NAIA football, but his head coaching record of 104-12 is truly outrageous. He's had a meteoric rise, from Indiana's offensive coordinator, to Fresno State's head coach, and now of course to Washington, who he led to a national championship game. Could he take one more step and lead perhaps the country's premier program?

In short, probably not. DeBoer has no ties to Alabama, or even the SEC. In a school so entrenched in a community that really respects its insiders, it's hard to imagine Washington's coach, who hails from South Dakota, getting the call to lead the Crimson Tide, even though his name has been circulated quite a bit.

Dan Lanning

Now Lanning is someone who is familiar with the SEC, and was even a graduate assistant at Alabama. He did a tremendous job as Georgia's defensive coordinator, and the unit truly has not been the same since his departure. He's an accomplished recruiter, and could help the Tide stop bleeding prospects in the wake of the Saban news.

Lanning is one of the names we've seen thrown around the most in the first few hours after Saban's news broke. He's shown that he can run a major program, and as the Big Ten and SEC prepare to square off in the impending "Power Two" era of college football, you'd imagine that the Tide would relish a chance to weaken one of the top powers in the other major conference.

There have already been conflicting reports that Lanning is in Tuscaloosa, so the Oregon head coach could already be the frontrunner.

DeMeco Ryans

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 06: Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans looks on before kickoff against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 6, 2024 in

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Did you think this was just going to be limited to college coaches? Alabama can outbid most pro teams in terms of salary, and certainly as far as prestige. The Houston Texans certainly fall under that umbrella, as Ryans makes a bit less than $5 million a year, a number Alabama can certainly beat.

It's been a great first year as an NFL head coach for Ryans, who could be set for the long term in Houston as CJ Stroud looks like the real deal. But a pay raise and the reins to the program at his Alma Mater, where he was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American, might be enough to pull him away.

Pete Carroll

Considering the fact that Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson have both been out of coaching since the late 1990s, Carroll is the only available coach who owns both a college football national championship and a Super Bowl ring. But let's talk about that word- available. We wouldn't have attached it to Carroll just a few hours ago, but news that he is transitioning out of the head coach role in Seattle broke just hours before the Saban bombshell.

It was a shocker to the public, but was it also a surprise to Carroll? The team's announcement indicated that he'll stay on as an advisor, but his own statements seemed to indicate a desire to coach football. Perhaps he'd like to return to the college game, in which he had so much success leading some of the best USC teams of all time, in a setting where he'd have total organizational control.

Brian Daboll

Brian Daboll may have been the offensive coordinator for Alabama for just one season, but it was one of the most memorable years in school history. That was 2017, which was of course the campaign capped off by a national championship halftime switch from Jalen Hurts to Tua Tagovailoa, which sparked a major comeback and sealed the title for the Crimson Tide.

After losing its first semifinal since the inaugural playoff, the school may not mind invoking memories of its greatest triumph of this era. Daboll made that mid-game transition possible, and he's been fantastic in the NFL since then. He was responsible for the resurgent rise of Josh Allen, and he even got a playoff appearance out of Daniel Jones. A return to Tuscaloosa could be a perfect fit as unrest seems to be setting in around Daboll in New Jersey.

Bill Belichick

01 January 06: Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban, left, greets New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick before the game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 28-26.

Photo from Getty

This might just be the longest shot on the entire list, but there have been rumors of Belichick's departure from New England for months, and nobody reporting those stories thinks he's done coaching. The Los Angeles Chargers have been cited as a likely landing place, but as someone who's thoroughly conquered the NFL, why not try and take over the college game too?

Saban was on a Belichick staff back in the 1990s, when the eventual New England Patriot led the Cleveland Browns. The two are close friends, who have bonded over their Croatian heritage and general love for football- winning football. It's been surmised that Saban wouldn't leave Alabama without a succession plan. Perhaps he departed with the knowledge that a friend, who might be soon forced to move on from his own position, was willing to take the mantle.

MORE: One Coach Expected to Be Alabama's Top Target to Replace Nick Saban