Alabama coach Nick Saban tested negative for COVID-19 on Friday according to College GameDay’s Tom Rinaldi. Speaking on College GameDay, Rinaldi said that the six-time national champion needs only one more negative test to coach in the Crimson Tide’s prime-time game vs. Georgia. Per SEC rules, Saban needs three negative tests to be on the sideline.
“He’s one more negative test result from being able to re-join his team,” Rinaldi said. “Coach Saban has already been tested today, following a typical timeline. If that comes back negative again, expect him to rejoin the team. This is not Alabama protocol. This is conference-protocol.”
Saban, who tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week, received another test Saturday morning and his results are expected back a few hours from now ahead of kickoff.
“There was initial concern if there would be spread or outbreak, but after the final team test on Thursday, those result came back and there was absolutely no indication of further spread on the roster,” Rinaldi said. “A lot of people now waiting on Nick Saban’s Saturday morning test.”
It’s a huge boost for the Crimson Tide if Saban is available for Saturday’s showdown.
“If he gets the third negative test, he’s going to be coaching,” Desmond Howard said. “He’s such a presence.”
Alabama is a 5-point favorite in the showdown pitting SEC unbeatens.
“For the last 25 years I’ve been really fortunate to get behind closed doors access to coaches and what’s been fascinating to me is how hands on Saban is with the defense,” Herbstreit said. “There isn’t an aspect of his program he doesn’t touch on a daily basis. How big a deal is this? It’s monumental. It’s very significant and having him if he does come back, it’s a huge, huge upswing for Alabama coming into this game.”
Saban said Wednesday that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is second in command, as he has head coaching experience from previous stints at USC and Washington. As of Wednesday, Saban said it was unclear how much leeway Sarkisian would have to make his own decisions as an acting head coach of sorts — but if Saban can’t communicate with the team during Saturday’s game, it seems that Sarkisian will be fully in charge after kickoff.
“The autonomy part, we haven’t really decided yet,” Saban said. “But in light of the fact that any coach can test positive, we try to have a protocol in place for if we lost a coach, especially one in a leadership position, who would step in for them. Obviously, Sark’s been a head coach before, and I’m not sure exactly how this is going to play out in terms of when the game comes, whether I can have communication with people or not. We’ll have to research and sort of figure that one out. But we did have a plan for each coach on the staff as to what might happen. We’ve just got to go from there. Just like if we lose a player we have to do the same thing.”