Mike Norvell was nearly Alabama head coach and Lane Kiffin almost replaced him at FSU

Dec 30, 2023; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell reacts against
Dec 30, 2023; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell reacts against / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Norvell was reportedly close to replacing Nick Saban as the head football coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide -- and if that had happened, instead of Kalen DeBoer leaving Washington to replace Saban, Lane Kiffin would've replaced Norvell as Florida State's head coach.

“In fact, in the wee hours of that Friday morning, the fear among Florida State officials was that Norvell was close to trading his FSU garnet for Alabama crimson,” ESPN's Chris Low reported. “Sources told ESPN that Florida State was poised to move quickly if that happened and that Kiffin would be a prime candidate.”

As Low would report, there was legitimate fear on FSU's campus that Norvell, who led the Seminoles to an undefeated record and an ACC Championship victory in 2023, was going to take his coaching talents to Tuscaloosa.

“There were sighs of relief around FSU’s campus when athletic director Michael Alford posted a tweet at 11:51 a.m. Friday that indicated a deal with Norvell was in place," Low prefaced before saying, “Then at 12:07 p.m., Norvell took to social media to confirm he was staying put.

“Shortly thereafter, news broke that Norvell had agreed to an extension on his contract that would pay him more than $10 million annually over the next eight years. Part of the agreement was a reassurance to Norvell that more money would be committed for his football administrative staff and a larger recruiting budget. A new stand-alone football complex was already under construction, along with upgrades to the stadium.”

Kalen DeBoer is an outsider with lower expectations than Mike Norvell would've had at Alabama

DeBoer is a proven winner, but he's never done it in the South. That has brought DeBoer a barrage of "Husky Harsin" comparisons to ex-Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin, who ultimately proved to be in over his head on the Plains.

Norvell is a proven winner in the South at Memphis and FSU and would've had fans calling for his head had he not won it all immediately. DeBoer may have a year of leeway in Tuscaloosa if he can maintain the pace of the late-Saban years: College Football Playoff appearances, though no championships in the NIL era.

DeBoer works for Alabama at this moment in time. Norvell may work in the future for a blue blood program like Alabama if FSU can't escape the ACC in the coming years.