Alabama football head coach Nick Saban, widely regarded as the top coach in the sport, has tested positive for COVID-19. The announcement comes just three days ahead of Alabama’s biggest regular season game of the season.
Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne have both come down with the highly contagious coronavirus. “Early this afternoon, we received notification that Coach Saban and (AD) Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19. Both immediately left the facility and went to their homes to self-isolate after receiving that information,” the school announced in a statement.
Alabama, the No. 2 team in the country, is scheduled to face No. 3 Georgia in Tuscaloosa on Saturday afternoon, in a potential SEC Championship Game preview.
Right now, the likelihood of Saban coaching that game is very unclear. Considering the game is just days away, it seems unlikely.
BREAKING: #Alabama statement: “Early this afternoon, we received notification that Coach Saban and (AD) Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19. Both immediately left the facility and went to their homes to self-isolate after receiving that information.”
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) October 14, 2020
According to Cecil Hurt, Saban “directed Alabama football practice from home today.” Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the former head coach at USC and Washington, is reportedly leading things in person, making him the likely choice as interim head coach for Saturday, assuming Saban can’t be there for the game.
Brandon Marcello says that Saban is symptom-free which is a good sign. Saban is 68 years old, but appears to be in pretty good shape as far as we know, so hopefully it doesn’t become a serious case.
OC Steve Sarkisian is running practices in person for Bama. Saban has not yet shown symptoms. Tide host Georgia Saturday.
— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) October 14, 2020
Alabama is coming off of a shootout win against former Crimson Tide assistant Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss. It is, of course, unclear where Nick Saban and Greg Byrne contracted COVID-19. So far, we have no information about others in the program, including players who may have been around Saban in recent days.
We’ll have more as it comes out.
Update: Alabama football just put out a full statement on Saban and Byrne’s positive tests. The athletic department is in the process of contact tracing to identify individuals at risk.
Statement from UA re: Saban and Byrne pic.twitter.com/um9gPuCl8a
— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) October 14, 2020
Alabama and Georgia are set to kick off at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, with the game being broadcast on CBS.
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