Patriots, Alabama name new football coaches with hiring of Mayo, DeBoer

Published 3:54 pm Friday, January 12, 2024

An unforgettable 72-hour period ended on Friday afternoon with both the Alabama Crimson Tide and New England Patriots reportedly settling on the replacements for two of the most iconic football coaches in the history of the game, Nick Saban and Bill Belichick.

First on Friday the news came out of Foxborough that New England would replace Belichick with former Patriot Jerod Mayo. Later in the day, reports from Tuscaloosa had Alabama tabbing University of Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer as the successor to Saban.

Belichick does not appear to be done coaching. He is 15 wins away from passing Don Shula for most all-time in NFL history. Patriots owner Robert Kraft painted the parting as amicable during a press conference given by the two on Thursday.

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Mayo played linebacker from 2008 to 2015 under Belichick and joined his staff as an assistant in 2019. He’d long been considered the coach-in-waiting for New England.

In his career, Belichick took the Patriots to the Super Bowl on nine occasions, winning six Lombardi trophies alongside former New England quarterback Tom Brady.

The Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and Washington Commanders all have open head coaching positions in the NFL.

Unlike his friend Bill, Saban says he’s fully stepping away from the game for good with the announcement of his retirement at 72 years old.

Saban has been in Tuscaloosa for 17 years, winning six national championships during that span to go along with a title he won earlier in his career at LSU.

Belichick and Saban are linked by more than just dominance and their friendship, the pair coached together with the Cleveland Browns in 1991.

As the defensive coordinator with the New York Giants with Bill Parcells, Belichick had been part of a Super Bowl win for the G-Men in 1990.

The Browns hired Belichick to be their head coach and he tabbed Saban, who’d been the head coach for one year at Toledo, to come to the Brown to be his defensive coordinator.

The pair were together in Cleveland for four seasons. After coordinating the top defense in the league, Saban left to take the head job at Michigan State. Belichick would last one more season in Cleveland before being fired and linking back up with Parcells in New England.

Their shared legacy of excellence is one that’s build around similar systems.

For New England, it was called “The Patriot Way.” In Tuscaloosa, Saban dubbed it “The Process.”

Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne had to act quickly in hiring a replacement for Saban. In the state of college football in 2024, everything is set on turbo mode, and not having a coach in place for a week can spell doom on the recruiting front.

There are those who might knock the selection of DeBoer, but like when LSU plucked Saban from Michigan State, it’s a risk worth taking.

DeBoer is a winner, first at an NAIA program, Sioux Falls, where he captured three national championships. He coached at Fresno State before taking the job at Washington, where he took the Huskies to the national title game in year two.

As a college head coach, DeBoer is 104-12 all-time.

Oregon coach Dan Lanning, Florida State coach Mike Norvell and Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian all made public pronouncements that they were staying put at their current school during the Alabama coaching search.

Sources had DeBoer, Norvell and Alabama offensive coordinator Tommy Rees as the three most serous contenders for the job. Ole Miss Lane Kiffin, a former Alabama offensive coordinator, was also talked about as a candidate. 

Lost in the news of Belichick and Saban this week was the retirement of Seattle Seahawk head coach Pete Carroll, one of only three coaches all time to win both a national championship in college and a Super Bowl in the NFL.