The Alabama football team showed off their first glimpse of their 2024 squad with the spring game that was on Saturday. Crimson Tide fans showed out in big numbers to get a look at the new team. Not only is it a new team player-wise, but also because of the head coach. Legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban retired after last season, and now, it is Kalen DeBoer's turn to lead the Crimson Tide. Saban gave a farewell message before the game.

“I'd also like to thank you, the fans, for 17 years of your support which made the program what it is,” Nick Saban said to the many Alabama football fans watching his farewell speech. “When we stepped on this campus 17 years ago and there were 95,000 people at the A-Day game, that set the tone for what Alabama was gonna become, what this program was gonna become and it was all because of you being part of the team and the support you gave us, and I know the players appreciate that more than you know. So thank you very much for all your support, thank these guys, thank you for being here today to honor these guys because they certainly deserve it because they did a fantastic job for our team last year as leaders.”

Saban will go down as one of the best football coaches of all time. His career with the Crimson Tide was truly unlike anything we have seen in college football. In his 17 seasons with Alabama football, he finished with an overall record of 201-29. He just didn't lose football games very often.

In those 17 years, Saban and Alabama also won six national championships and nine SEC championships. Before this past season, there was no stretch of three years for the Crimson Tide under Saban where they didn't win the national title. They made it to the College Football Playoff this season and had a chance to keep that absurd stat alive, but the Crimson Tide fell to Michigan in the Rose Bowl. That was the last game that Saban will ever coach.

It's going to be weird seeing Nick Saban not on the sidelines next season for Alabama, and it was weird not seeing him coaching in the spring game on Saturday. Still, the program seems to be in good hands with Kalen DeBoer.

A new era of Alabama football

Jan 13, 2024; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; The statue of University of Alabama football head coach Nick Saban on the Walk of Champions outside Bryant-Denny Stadium after the team introduced their new head football coach Kalen DeBoer (not pictured) at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
© John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Nick Saban era is over, and it is time for Kalen DeBoer to take over. DeBoer was one of the hottest names in the coaching market after taking Washington all the way to the national title game last season. We were very close to seeing a DeBoer-Saban matchup in the national title game, and it's interesting to think about how all of this would've gone down if that happened.

DeBoer did a great job with the Huskies, and after a couple other big-name coaches squashed the Alabama rumors after Saban retired, the Crimson Tide needed to get DeBoer, because there weren't a ton of options after him. There were plenty of good coaches, but to replace Nick Saban? It's a good thing that they got DeBoer to say yes.

Next year will be big for the Crimson Tide, and there will be a lot of pressure on DeBoer. Following in the footsteps of greatness is not easy.