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Eight Candidates To Replace Nick Saban at Alabama

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman

Nick Saban is retiring from college football and that means the Alabama Crimson Tide will be looking for a head coach for the first time in nearly two decades.

Saban leaves the Crimson Tide after six national championships over 17 seasons. No word if he’s leaving “The Process” behind for his successor.

So, who will replace him? Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne can honestly hire anyone he wants. College or pro. Plus, Saban has such an immense coaching tree that it’s more likely than not that his successor will be a former lieutenant. The standard is now immense at Alabama.

 

Byrne isn’t hiring some coordinator to rebuild. Whoever he hires will be a heavyweight. The field of candidates will be narrow. It’s also why Byrne and Alabama may have to pay big money in a buyout for whoever they hire.

Here are potential options.

Dan Lanning, Head Coach, Oregon

His name came up almost immediately on social media. Some have already reported he may be the leading candidate. He was a GA at Alabama for a year, made his bones at Georgia as Kirby Smart’s defensive coordinator (and no Kirby is not leaving for Alabama) and he’s 22-5 in two seasons at Oregon. He’s one of the game’s brightest young coaching stars.

Dabo Swinney, head coach, Clemson

Five years ago he would be the top candidate. Now? Eh, maybe not. But don’t rule it out. He’s a former Alabama player. He played for and coached under Gene Stallings. He’s won two national championships. If Alabama wants to replace their national champion with another, he’s probably the choice.

Lane Kiffin, head coach, Ole Miss

Kiffin did his career rehab at Alabama after his dismissal from USC. He became a better coach working for Saban, helped set the Crimson Tide up for a national championship game as offensive coordinator, and has led Ole Miss to a 34-15 record in four seasons. He’s a quality follow on social media. These days that’s currency with recruits.

 

Steve Sarkisian, head coach, Texas

Sarkisian rehabilitated his career under Saban at Alabama and coordinated the offense that won a national championship before he moved on to resurrect the Longhorns. It would be a hard get for the Tide, but the idea of hiring Sark and maybe getting Arch Manning to transfer along with him is an enticing one.

Jim Harbaugh, head coach, Michigan

He just hired a new agent and everyone assumes that he’ll get NFL offers. He just led Michigan to a national championship. That gives him an enormous amount of leverage with his current employer. But, Harbaugh likes a challenge. Succeeding Saban and trying to win another national title would be the ultimate challenge.

Deion Sanders, head coach, Colorado

Oh, Coach Prime’s name will come up. But the bloom is off the rose a bit even after Colorado’s improvement this season. Still, Coach Prime wants to do everything at an elite level. There is nothing more elite in college football than coaching Alabama. I can’t imagine Byrne going there, but there will be rumors, and Sanders might even stump for the job.

Pete Carroll, former Seattle Seahawks head coach

I know he just separated amicably from Seattle the same day that Saban decided to retire, but Carroll does have a national championship and a Super Bowl title to his name. At 72, he would be a short-term hire. But he’s available and he maintains the standard until the Crimson Tide can get the right hire.

 

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots head coach

Once you see it you can’t unsee it.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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