Energetic crowd welcomes new Alabama coach Kalen DeBoer to Tuscaloosa

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The Kalean DeBoer era of Alabama football started at approximately 8:37 central time.

That’s when the 28th head coach of the Crimson Tide touched down in Tuscaloosa National Airport on Friday night, hours after news of hire broke and just over two days following the retirement of DeBoer’s predecessor, the legendary Nick Saban. Saban famously had a crowd awaiting him 17 years ago when he accepted the job.

“ALA-BAMA, ALA-BAMA,” rang through the hastily assembling crowd, phone apps recording the temperature at 50 degrees.

Hymns of “Dixieland Delight” ran out as fans awaited DeBoer’s plane, including his wife, Nicole, two daughters Alexis and Avery, and Washington team general manager Courtney Morgan. UA athletics director Greg Byrne pulled up and shook hands with fans, sharing “Roll Tides.”

Byrne, who reportedly had a 72-hour time self-imposed frame to replace Saban, joked with reporters that he was tired. But it was all smiles once DeBoer arrived in a gray quarterzip. After hanging out with the fans for a beat, DeBoer piled into the back of a Black SUV, Byrne in the driver’s seat and set off toward campus.

“Coach DeBoer has proven he is a winner and has done an incredible job as a head coach at each of his stops. One of the things I told our team the other day is we are going to get someone who is not only a great coach with the Xs and Os, but also someone who cares about his players and someone I’d want my sons to play for, just like I would have wanted them to play for Coach Saban. We got that in Coach DeBoer,” Byrne said in a release provided by the program.

Fans and more news cameras awaited their arrival at the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility, cheering as players gathered for a 9 p.m. mandatory team meeting. DeBoer entered through a side door in the parking lot and began his tenure leading the Crimson Tide.

He will be officially introduced in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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