It would appear that one of several things Kalen DeBoer has in common with his predecessor is quite the rolodex. That was evidenced yesterday when he hired three news assistants.

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Speaking on WJOX-FM Tuesday morning, DeBoer came across as someone who is always prepared to replace a departing staff member, a situation that has happened repeatedly since he he was hired at Alabama last month. Here's a look at what DeBoer had to say to Cole Cubelic and Greg McElroy:

On leaving Washington to take the Alabama job

“I think every process is different, and this one, just because of the timing and the urgency – I know especially on Alabama’s end with Greg Byrne – and being really almost the middle of January at the time, it was something that just moved along extremely quickly.

“Coach Saban makes the announcement and retires, and I don’t know if it was the next day or the day after, I think that was a Wednesday, Thursday, so maybe Thursday, we followed through with the interview process there, and Friday, you’re accepting a job and down in Tuscaloosa, rolling up the sleeves and getting to work. So it was a really quick turnaround. Something that you’re kind of licking your wounds from a championship game, really kind of got that heartache at the time and trying to work through that back at Washington.

“But all of a sudden, you’ve kind of got your head in a different space with an opportunity here. So a lot of emotions during that time, and I’ve kind of had a chance now over the last month to kind of settle in and kind of in a little bit of routine for the first time in a while.”

On his impressions of the Alabama job from a distance

“I’ve just always had the ultimate respect for Alabama football, and I know a lot of that has been tied to Coach Saban over the years and going through the years as a coach. Just constantly looking to Alabama as the standard and just kind of always keeping an eye on, whether it’s the schemes, the concepts on the field, but probably just how everything’s been carried out through Coach Saban’s leadership here within the program.

“You try to tailor yourself around those that are the best, and there’s certainly a lot of things that I’ve stolen from a lot of programs around the country. I think that’s just the nature of our job is you try to figure out and take the pieces that fit who you are and what you do. And I’ve always had my eye on Alabama from, I guess, that idea and that concept. Just always looking to improve our place wherever I’ve been, and Alabama has always been a major part of that.”

On coaching at a small school like Sioux Falls

“I think small college football – and I wouldn’t trade my journey for anything because I think those experiences that I had there have shaped who I am and have an appreciation for the different steps and different places I’ve been on my journey. But yeah, you think about a game day and you think about a four-hour trip to the Omaha area in Lincoln, Neb., and those trips aren’t happening usually the night before, those are happening the morning of the game. And a one o’clock kickoff means you’re probably leaving about 5:30, six o’clock to arrive at 10:30, and you just pull over to a rest spot, you pull over to a park and the sandwiches and all that pregame meal are prepared.

“Everyone is just all hands on deck because you’ve got some part-time coaches that are maybe even driving on their own, different things like that. It’s just amazing experiences when you see everyone do it for the things that they love, and that’s to come together as a team. We’d have those meals and hop back on the bus and maybe make the last hour of the trip to someplace in that Lincoln and Omaha area and go play ball, doing what we love to do.”

On his vision for building the offense at Alabama

“Our offense, and the system has really been built up over many years. I called it for 20 years from 2000-19 and had a great opportunity with Ryan Grubb, who was with me for a lot of those years from 2007 until then, to really hand it over and felt like taking over as a head coach, that was the right thing to do and knew he was someone who I really trusted. And obviously, that worked out over the last four years at Fresno State and Washington. I think, though, that you know that that time is coming where other opportunities come. I couldn’t be could be happier for Ryan and the chance to be with the Seahawks there. He’s gonna do a great job.

“I think if you just look at kind of what we’ve done here within, a guy like Nick Sheridan, JaMarcus Shephard, guys that have been with me the last two years, and Nick being with me back in 2019. He ran the offense then after I left Indiana, so he’s been a part of it for five years. And these guys are just such gifted football coaches, amazing people. And we’ll keep that system, what we see. And I think every year it’s a little bit different just based on your personnel. Who we had at Washington and who we had at Fresno State, and you go back through the years, it’s been different every place.

“So it’s got that flexibility to be able to adjust around the personnel we have, and we have extremely smart people here in the building that will continue to build on what’s already been established. And so yeah, I’m in and around it. I can’t help but always know exactly what’s going on. I do want them to make it theirs as we go through it, but I’m certainly involved and have a deep passion for making sure what’s happening on the football field.”

On player departures in the portal

“I think a lot of that turnover happened before we even stepped foot on campus. I think at one point – the numbers may have changed, maybe one or two guys here and there – but I think 18 or so the guys were in the portal before Coach even retired. It’s just like you said, the nature of...  college football right now, college athletics. But maybe a couple others that weren’t in yet but maybe had even put their name in. And it just takes a day or two for that to happen. So there was probably four or five guys that really I got a chance to be around and meet and they still decided to kind of move on and test the waters elsewhere.

“So from internally, there’s not this feeling that guys didn’t stay the course once we got here. We love who we have here, and man yesterday, just being in the indoor and going through our Fourth Quarter workout, it was electric. It has made this culture what it is and gotten it to this point. They’ve got a little chip on their shoulder, I think. There’s a little bit of noise here and there that they might hear, and we’re going to use that to our advantage just to help us be motivated, go to another level.

“But I think we do have a couple of spots, and you naturally just kind of keep your eyes and ears open for what those are going to be and we’ve got to go through our spring ball and continue to evaluate our team. I think there’s some good young players that will step up and do a great job. But we do have a couple extra scholarships. Not a lot but we do have a couple extra scholarships still available that we could utilize when that time comes.”

On advice he’s received from Nick Saban

“He’s been great. I think there’s all but been one time where he hasn’t picked up the phone, and about five minutes later, I think he called me back. So he’s just been amazing. And not just for me, but I know Kane Wommack and the defensive staff are excited about having continued conversations, just talking ball. We have great coaches on our staff, but you can’t help but make sure that utilize that resource in Coach Saban.

“I think a lot of the conversations have just been me understanding probably who’s here, how things have been done and any questions that just popped up, just hollering his way. I think as we go through the next couple months, we’ll continue to have more of those questions just on a what’s the best way? Why did you think this way here? And why was this practice set up that (way)? There’s just little things that maybe were done a different way and you pick up the phone and reach out. He’s been nothing but great giving his perspective on all of it.”

On adding Group of Five head coaches to the defensive staff

“That was right off the bat two guys [Mo Linguist and Kane Wommack] that I had identified that I just am so excited about just because of what you said – their experiences as head coaches and kind of being in the chair and using the word perspective, what they have is and understanding kind of what I’m doing and when we make decisions, kind of why it is for that and that reasoning. So those two guys have been amazing. Kane’s experience also just in the state and regionally down here in the southeast just cannot be overstated. And Mo, when I got a chance to get to know him a little bit, you just could see that he was going to be an amazing fit.

“And they bring both bring great energy, great expertise. Their records and resumes are certainly proven. We’ve got a lot of other guys, I think, on this staff that are going to be head coaches sooner than later. They have that within them. You can see the way they motivate, the way they teach, the way they recruit. And so I’m excited to see the journey of all these guys, and I’d be pretty hypocritical if I didn’t hope that we continue to develop the coaches just as much as we’re developing the players so someday they get their opportunity, just like I’ve had over the years.”

On what he's learned the last five weeks

"I don’t know if I’ve learned it, but one of the really cool things is just the guys and the players from within, how not resilient but just the appreciation I have for how patient they’ve been and them realizing that they’re the ones that got to go out and make the plays on Saturdays. And again, that appreciation for how they just kind of stayed the course and believing in Alabama and believing that Greg Byrne and those that are here that run our university and our athletic program are going to continue to hire great people and that I’m going to continue to bring great people in. And our guys have just stayed the course and just focused on what they can control along the way.

“I think we’re getting stronger and stronger because of just the way we’ve united. I think one of the connecting points was kind of going back to just falling short here this last season, whether it be myself and a couple of our staff members that came from Washington or the team here.

"We kind of finished the season with an empty pit in our stomach, and that’s been something that’s really kind of united [us]. So it’s been really cool to see those that have been on the staff before, those that have been here before as players and us coming together with the staff that I brought in to add to it. It’s just been really cool seeing everything come together. So it’s been an awesome experience so far. Can’t wait here in a couple of weeks, we’re going to be taking the field before spring break for a few practices, and I know the guys are eager to do that.”

SEC Coaches as Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Gallery Credit: Mary K


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