How to avoid these 5 bad things from happening to Kalen DeBoer in year one at Alabama

Doing any one of these five things in year one at Alabama could be problematic for Kalen DeBoer.

Kalen DeBoer, Alabama Crimson Tide
Kalen DeBoer, Alabama Crimson Tide / Brandon Sumrall/GettyImages
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Now that the dust has settled a bit in the aftermath of Nick Saban abruptly retiring, we must ask ourselves what are realistic expectations for Kalen DeBoer in year one at Alabama. Right off the bat, I would say going something like 10-2, maybe even 9-3 to be the fourth-best team in the SEC with a realistic shot of making the 12-team College Football Playoff is certainly doable. Yeah, that's the bar.

DeBoer won prolifically during his two years at Washington. He may not hail from the southeastern part of the United States, but this South Dakota man knows how to coach. In time, I suspect he should be able to put his stamp on the Alabama program that is both authentically his own, as well as in the vein of what made Saban's run in Tuscaloosa so dynastic. It will not be easy, but is still possible.

With the Pac-12 dissolving and the Power Five becoming the Power Four, it is a new era of college athletics for all of us. The SEC is going from a 14-team league to one with 16 upon the arrival of Oklahoma and Texas on July 1. The Sooners and Longhorns will help shape this league, as will how DeBoer takes the torch from Saban in Tuscaloosa. He must establish his foundation early in year one.

Here are five pitfalls he must avoid in year one on the job. These are the solutions to those problems.

5. Problem: Go 5-3 in SEC play during your first season in the conference

Alabama may play at Wisconsin this year, but the Crimson Tide's pathway to 4-0 in the non-conference is fairly feasible. A win over the Badgers in Madison, as well as three home wins over Western Kentucky, USF and Mercer should have the Crimson Tide contending for a spot in the expanded College Football Playoff, even with two losses in SEC play. What happens if they go 5-3?

Going 5-3 in the SEC requires going 4-0 in the non-conference to even have an outside shot at being the No. 11 seed in the expanded 12-team playoff format. Right now, it is too early to tell if three losses crosses you off from contention in a "Power Two" league. This feels like a team that could be as good as 11-1 if all went right for them. Conversely, this team could go 8-4 or even 7-5 if it were to be upset.

What is the best way to avoid going 5-3 in conference play? Upsetting a team who should beat you.

Solution: Upset either Georgia or Missouri at home, or LSU on the road

Alabama is fortunate that it does not draw Ole Miss or Texas in conference play this year. The Rebels and Longhorns feel like locks to make the expanded playoff. However, they do draw one team that is a lock in Georgia, as well as four potential contenders in conference play. That would be Missouri at home, as well as LSU, Oklahoma and Tennessee on the road. They have to win the latter two or else...

So to really avoid any potential either way game, Alabama needs to beat just one of these three teams to have a quality win that might be good enough to get them to 10-2 and maybe into the playoff. Georgia at home will be tough, but Missouri at home feels far more managable. Beating LSU on the road in Death Valley feels daunting, but the Bayou Bengals aren't as good as UGA or Mizzou.

If Alabama beats another playoff hopeful to finish around 10-2, that feels like a top-10 team to me.