Paul Finebaum pitches dark horse Nick Saban replacement at Alabama

Alabama will eventually need a successor for Nick Saban and Paul Finebaum already sees an option on the West Coast.

SEC network host Paul Finebaum
SEC network host Paul Finebaum / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

For a long time, it felt like the Alabama Crimson Tide might have a ready-made replacement for Nick Saban in Dabo Swinney. But the shine has come off the Clemson head coach and Alabama alumnus. So the Tide have got to be on the lookout for someone else to take over the premiere program in the land.

Saban insists he's not thinking about retiring even though the Tide look diminished in 2023. Eventually, that day will come though and Paul Finebaum has a new name to toss on the list of potential replacements.

Dan Lanning, come on down!

Paul Finebaum floats Dan Lanning as a Nick Saban replacement for Alabama

"Dan Lanning with his coaching on the field and his comments at halftime and after the game, he has now emerged as one of the top coaches in the country," Finebaum said. "And the former Saban and Kirby Smart assistant, may be a successor at Alabama one day."

Indeed, Lanning was a graduate assistant on Saban's staff at Alabama in 2015. He got a full-time gig at Memphis that he turned into a spot on Kirby Smart's staff in 2018. Smart was so impressed with the defensive mind that he made him co-defensive coordinator in 2019.

And Lanning has certainly done a good job at Oregon so far. Sure, he got demolished 49-3 in his head coaching debut against Georgia in 2022, but he rallied the troops to finish 10-3 with two losses to ranked Washington and Oregon State by seven points combined.

Now the Ducks are contenders in the loaded Pac-12 and coming off an obliteration of Colorado on Saturday, 42-6. He still has a lot to prove but he's one of the bright young stars of the coaching profession.

The best news for Alabama is they don't need to replace Saban just yet. He sounds like he wants to keep coaching for at least another season, so candidates like Lanning will have even more time to prove if they're worth considering in Tuscaloosa.

As for Oregon, the Ducks have got to be sitting here and wondering if another promising head coach of theirs will get stolen away.

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