The GOAT is out. And for the first time since the release of the original iPhone, the University of Alabama is in the market for a new head football coach. It honestly feels pretty surreal.
This is going to be the most fascinating hire in college football this century. I'm sure nobody wants to take over immediately following the greatest to ever do it, but Alabama has absolutely everything in place you need to win national championships and is prepared to pay whatever it takes to remain one of the premier programs in college football. With that in mind, here's my v1.0 hot board for the Tide:
I have to imagine Lane gets the first call here, right? This was Dabo Swinney's job to lose for many years — so much so that Clemson inserted a clause in his contract that raised his buyout if he left for Alabama as opposed to any other school — but it doesn't really seem like he's the first choice anymore. Kiffin just won 11 games at Ole Miss for the first time in school history and seems like he will have that program regularly competing for College Football Playoff spots in a 12-team field. He also obviously worked under Saban for three years.
I think this would be a home run. Lane operates very differently than Saban, but I don't believe there would be a sharp decline in results if Kiffin was Bama's next coach.
The other obvious name that sticks out is Dan Lanning, who comes from the Kirby Smart branch of the Saban coaching tree, though he did spend one year at Alabama as a graduate assistant in 2015.
I didn't know what to expect from Lanning when he took his first head coaching job at Oregon after serving as Georgia's defensive coordinator, but he's been phenomenal. Things didn't end the way the Ducks would have liked this year, but that team was a bounce or two away from competing in the Playoff this year and I'm not entirely sure they wouldn't have won it. Lanning has proven he can win at the highest level and would bring a fairly similar intensity to what Bama has had under Saban.
This is the moment Sark has been waiting for. He's been lying in the weeds, just plodding along until it was showtime and then he takes Texas to the CFP just in time for the Alabama job to open up.
I don't know that Sarkisian gets me as excited as either of the first two guys, but he would do a solid job. If you can get to the Playoff at Texas, you can certainly do it at Alabama. And what a story it would be for a former Saban assistant to beat the master in Tuscaloosa in his final season and then take the reins right after him.
And oh by the way, he has a quarterback currently on his roster named Arch Manning.
And lastly, I know I said he wasn't the favorite anymore, but Dabo Swinney is still going to be on the short list of guys Bama will reach out to about this job. Things went a little sideways this season at Clemson, but it would be foolish to ignore what he built there in the first place. I don't know that his philosophy on the transfer portal is something other schools are clamoring for right now, but he's a proven winner who played for the Tide and will almost certainly get a call.
Man, I'm fired up for this coaching search. Alabama just became the most fascinating team to watch in 2024. Only 33 weeks until kickoff, everybody.