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Jumbo Package: Eyes on Travaris Robinson as Kalen DeBoer fills out staff

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 CFP Semifinal - Rose Bowl Game - Alabama vs Michigan Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. It was an up and down weekend. The Gym Tide knocked off 3rd ranked Mizzou with a season high team score and men’s basketball got a tough road win in Starkville, but the women’s team was smacked by Arkansas and this news broke:

“We are pleased to announce Travaris Robinson,” Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart said in a statement released by the school. “ ... Travaris has 17 years of college coaching experience, including over a decade in the SEC mentoring some of the top defenses statistically in the NCAA.”

Will Muschamp, previously in Robinison’s role at Georgia, is stepping down to “spend more time with his family” while staying on staff as a defensive analyst, per UGA.

Robinson’s new contract details have yet to be reported. He earned $800,000 in 2023, according to USA Today’s database of assistant salaries. That was the 115th-highest salary for any non-head coach in college football.

This is something of a saga at this point. Robinson was announced by Kirby and changed his social media bios to UGA. Since then, however, reports from both sides have him interviewing for the Alabama defensive ccordinator job. Why he decided to jump to Georgia before Kalen DeBoer had hired a single coach on the defensive side of the ball is something of a mystery, but we’ll see how it all ends.

Interestingly Chuck Morrell, who has been on every staff that DeBoer has ever assembled as a head coach, seems to be staying out west. Both Washington Co-DCs attended new Washington coach Jedd Fisch’s initial team meeting.

The timeline on all of this is wild, and it’s because of Mark Emmert’s failure to get ahead of the NIL/Transfer portal mess. Alabama has already seen some of the inevitable attrition from Saban’s retirement. Isaiah Bond announced that he has committed to Texas, Amari Niblack and Dezz Ricks entered the portal, and five-star WRs Ryan Williams and Jaime Ffrench both re-opened their recruitments. Both of the high schoolers are set to visit Alabama in the near future though, so all isn’t lost, and Ricks specifically said that there is still a strong possibility that he will return. Of course, the main fear in Robinson leaving for UGA as safeties coach would be Caleb Downs following him.

Deboer has seemingly filled out his staff on the other side of the ball, and Freddie Roach is reportedly sticking around.

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Ryan Grubb, OC/QB coach

JaMarcus Shephard, WR coach

Scott Huff, OL coach

Nick Sheridan, TE coach

Robert Gillespie, RB coach

Freddie Roach, DL coach

Courtney Morgan, general manager

Jerret McElwain, director of scouting

Because of the warp speed, it really feels like Nick Saban’s legacy as the greatest coach in college football history hasn’t been properly celebrated, as everyone is so worried about moving on.

Nick Kelly has a timeline of the hire for you.

Byrne confirmed he interviewed DeBoer on Thursday. He and his wife, Regina Byrne, flew to Seattle. The interview took place downtown.

Byrne and DeBoer had never met before, but as soon as they did, DeBoer impressed.

Regina Byrne also took part in the process. She and Greg Byrne met with DeBoer and his wife, Nicole DeBoer.

“I include Regina in the process because if you’re going to be all in on it, your spouse, your wife, better be all in on it,” Byrne said. “I think that’s important. You’ve seen the partnership coach (Saban) and (wife) Miss Terry have had. With coach DeBoer and Nicole, that was really obvious right off the bat. I was able to get (Regina’s) feedback.”

Paul Myerberg over at USA Today has some keys to success.

There’s a reason why hiring DeBoer is so unique. The former NAIA wide receiver’s coaching experience comes at Sioux Falls, Southern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Fresno State, Indiana and Washington.

But there’s one historic factor in his favor: Saban had never coached in the SEC, either, before being hired at LSU in 2000. Three seasons later, he led the Tigers to his first of seven national championships.

In other words, successful coaches tend to succeed regardless of the stomping ground.

There’s still set to be a major learning curve as DeBoer and his scheme adapt to life in the best conference in the FBS. While running through this year’s Pac-12 was no easy feat − the league definitely went out with a bang in terms of depth and quality − the SEC is a different animal.

Last, many have already mentioned Courtney Morgan as the key behind the scenes, and he may well be.

Morgan was one of DeBoer’s first hires at Washington before the 2022 season. He had previously held the same general manager role with Michigan in 2021, a one year separation from DeBoer, who also kept Morgan as general manager at Fresno State and San Jose State.

He also worked as the director of player development at UCLA, during which time he started a company to connect athletes and other public figures with business opportunities. He played offensive line at Michigan from 1999-2003.

DeBoer and Morgan will need to be working immediately, trying to keep Alabama’s roster together. The Crimson Tide’s players received a 30-day window to enter the transfer portal following Saban’s retirement.

The fan funded NIL collectives get all the hype, but if he is connected enough to help players find real endorsement opportunities, he could be a huge asset.

That’s about it for today. We’ll keep you updated on any coaching news today.

Roll Tide.