Just months away from the college football season, former Alabama quarterback and 2009 national champion Greg McElroy made a bold prediction surrounding the Alabama Crimson Tide and their new coach.

McElroy believes that Kalen DeBoer be the most successful first-year head coach in the history of Alabama Crimson Tide football, matching or surpassing the nine-win mark set by Frank Thomas in 1931, who went 9-1.

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“I would be highly surprised if Alabama didn’t win at least nine games,” McElroy noted. “Their schedule sets up pretty well. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s manageable,” said McElroy on his podcast, Always College Football with Greg McElroy.

The Tide’s schedule, the ninth toughest in the SEC, isn’t without its challenges, and that’s putting it lightly. A typical schedule in the SEC is a brutal gauntlet, however, the 2024 season brings a new level of difficulty as Texas and Oklahoma join the conference. Alabama has the latter on the schedule in Norman, Oklahoma, with other challenging road games at #13 Tennessee, #11 Missouri, #10 LSU and an early out of conference road game at Wisconsin.

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In terms of achieving first season success, program legends Saban and Stallings both went 7-6 in their first seasons, while Bryant was 5-4-1.  DeBoer, however, appears to have a stronger roster than his predecessors, with the return of dual-threat quarterback Jalen Milroe and a No. 6 preseason ranking. Additionally, DeBoer stabilized the team after significant transfers following Nick Saban’s retirement.

Still, getting nine plus wins with this schedule will be no small feat. With the expanded college football playoff format there will be slightly more room for error than in the past, but not much. The Crimson Tide will likely need 10-plus victories to earn a birth in a tournament and compete for a national championship.