Alabama wasted little time in finding Nick Saban’s successor, hiring Kalen DeBoer away from national runner-up Washington.

The powerhouse program tapped DeBoer on Friday to replace Saban, just two days after the 72-year-old coach announced his retirement.

The 49-year-old DeBoer is a former NAIA coach who led Washington to the national championship game in his second season. Now, he takes over a program where Saban made that kind of success an annual expectation.

“I have always had an incredible respect for Alabama football and its commitment to excellence,” DeBoer said in a statement released by the university Friday night. “The tradition-rich history of this program is unmatched across the landscape of college athletics, and I look forward to continuing that moving forward.

“Following coach Saban is an honor. He has been the standard for college football, and his success is unprecedented. I would not have left Washington for just any school. The chance to lead the football program at the University of Alabama is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Alabama did not disclose details of DeBoer’s contract pending formal approval of its board of trustees.

Saban announced his retirement Wednesday after leading the Crimson Tide to six national championships in 17 seasons. He leaves massive shoes to fill and outsized expectations at the program Paul “Bear” Bryant helped build and Saban took to even greater heights.

Saban also won a national title at LSU and his seven championships are a major college record. The Crimson Tide have been in national title contention just about every season since winning their first in 17 years back in 2009, Saban’s third season.

College Football: Rose Bowl: Alabama head coach Nick Saban walks the sideline vs Michigan at the Rose Bowl. Pasadena, FL 1/1/2024 CREDIT: Erick W. Rasco (Photo by Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X164471 TK1)

Erick W. Rasco via Getty Images

The task of maintaining that standard falls to a coach with just two years of experience leading a Power Five program.

“Coach DeBoer has proven he is a winner and has done an incredible job as a head coach at each of his stops,” Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said. “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.”

The fast-rising DeBoer led the Huskies to a 14-1 record this season. Washington won the Pac-12 championship, beat Texas in the College Football Playoff semifinals and lost to No. 1 Michigan 34-13 in the national title game. DeBoer was named The Associated Press coach of the year.

DeBoer led the Huskies to a 25-3 record in two seasons after taking over a program that was 4-8 in 2021. He is the first Washington coach to win 11 games in consecutive seasons and won Pac-12 coach of the year honors twice.

DeBoer also has won national titles, albeit a few levels down in college football.

DeBoer led his alma mater, Sioux Falls, to a 67-3 record from 2005-09 and won three NAIA championships at the small, Baptist-affiliated school in South Dakota’s largest city. He later had immediate success at Fresno State, going 12-6 from 2020-21, with nine wins in his second season.

That’s a career mark of 104-12 at all levels, or 89.7%.

DeBoer became the first Washington coach to win 11 or more games in consecutive seasons after going 11-2 in 2022, twice earning Pac-12 coach of the year honors The Huskies also went 10-1 against ranked teams, and DeBoer is 18-3 in playoff games as a head coach.

Alabama’s short-term expectations won’t change with a team led by quarterback Jalen Milroe and a roster fortified by a string of highly rated recruiting classes.

DeBoer coached Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Penix Jr. last season and brings an offensive track record to replace Saban, a former NFL defensive coordinator. He was Fresno State’s offensive coordinator in the 2017 and 2018 seasons and held the same job at Indiana for a year before replacing Bulldogs coach Jeff Tedford.

An All-America receiver at Sioux Falls, DeBoer helped the Cougars win their first national championship in 1996. He then stayed on as receivers coach, returning in 2000 as offensive coordinator after a stint as a high school coach in Sioux Falls.

At Washington, DeBoer signed an extension after going 11-2 in 2022, raising his salary to $4.2 million with incremental increases to $4.8 million in the last year of the contract in 2028. It also included an increased buyout of $12 million if DeBoer left for a new job.

DeBoer hired high-powered agent Jimmy Sexton, who also represents Saban, last year. Saban received an eight-year deal in 2022 worth at least $93.6 million, including some $11.1 million this year.

“Kalen DeBoer has been an outstanding leader of our football program and what he accomplished in two seasons on Montlake will forever be a part of our storied history,” Huskies athletic director Troy Dannen said. “We are sad to see him leave and we did all that we could to keep Kalen at UW. But ultimately, he made a decision that was in the best interests of his family and furthered his professional goals.”

AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo and AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed to this report.