After 17 seasons as the Alabama head football coach, Nick Saban has decided to retire. This unexpected news puts Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne in one of the toughest positions of his career at Alabama: choosing Saban's successor.

While deciding the next Alabama coach will need to be a thorough process, it will need to be done swiftly to prevent players from leaving the program.

Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne sent a statement Wednesday night highlighting some traits he seeks in his coaching search.

Here are some possible candidates for the Alabama head coaching position.

Dan Lanning - Oregon Head Coach

Lanning is believed by most to be the favorite to get the job and to be the first person that Byrne calls. Lanning is only 37 years old and has led Oregon to a 22-5 record over the past two seasons, including a 12-2 record this season, ending with a 45-6 win over Liberty in the Fiesta Bowl. Lanning is a product of the Saban coaching tree, serving as a graduate assistant under him in 2015. In 2018, Lanning served under Kirby Smart as the outside linebackers coach at Georgia. The following season, he was promoted to Smart's defensive coordinator from 2019-2021 before getting the Oregon head coaching job in 2022.

Lane Kiffin - Ole Miss Head Coach

Kiffin might be the opposite of Nick Saban, but one thing he does share in common with Saban is that he knows how to coach. Kiffin has bounced around throughout his career but finally figured it out at Ole Miss. Kiffin is fresh off one of the best coaching jobs of his career, taking Ole Miss to an 11-2 record. Kiffin is one of the best recruiters and has done excellent work picking players out of the transfer portal, an essential quality needed in this era of college football. Kiffin is also a member of the Saban coaching tree, serving as Alabama's offensive coordinator for three years.

Dabo Swinney - Clemson Head Coach

Ten years ago, Dabo Swinney seemed like a slam dunk to be Saban's successor. Swinney won a national championship as a player at Alabama and coached there. Over the past few years, Swinney has struggled to adapt to the new era of college football with his approach, or lack thereof, to NIL and the transfer portal. With his Alabama roots and being one of the few active head coaches to win a national championship, Swinney will be on Alabama's shortlist.

Steve Sarkisian - Texas Head Coach

Sarkisian might be more of a long shot, considering he already has one of the better head coaching jobs in the country at Texas, but it doesn't hurt to give him a call. Sarkisian is another former Alabama assistant under Saban, serving as the offensive coordinator from 2019 to 20. While at Alabama, Sarkisian was the mastermind behind Alabama's No. 2 scoring offense, averaging 47.2 and 48.5 points per game in his two seasons. Sarkisian is coming off a 12-2 season, leading Texas to a Big 12 title and an appearance in the College Football Playoffs.

Mike Norvell - Florida State Head Coach

Norvell doesn't have the other candidates' accolades but is still an interesting coach to consider. Norvell brought back the Florida State program from the dead. He is coming off an undefeated regular season, winning the ACC title and narrowly missing out on the College Football Playoffs to the Crimson Tide. In the era of conference realignment, we saw the collapse of the Pac-12. Schools in the ACC are angry with the media rights agreements, including FSU, which is suing the conference. Getting out of the ACC before a possible collapse could be enticing for Norvell.

Kalen DeBoer - Washington Head Coach

DeBoer has zero experience in the SEC or anywhere near the Southeast, but he has proved he can coach. In two years as the head coach of Washington, DeBoer has turned around the program, leading the Huskies to the national championship game this season. As a head coach at Division II Sioux Falls, Fresno State and Washington, DeBoer has a remarkable 104-12 record. For a coach who has spent his entire career on the West Coast, SEC football is a whole different animal that could present problems for DeBoer.

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