Most of us have gotten used to utilizing video conferences to do at least some part of our job, including college football coaches this offseason. Alabama football’s Nick Saban probably figured it wouldn’t be the case when it came to actually leading his team on the practice field, but his recent positive COVID-19 test has changed that.
Saban missed his first practice on Wednesday. Hours later, the Alabama program announced that he and athletic director Greg Byrne had tested positive for the coronavirus. Saban has been home, overseeing Alabama practice virtually.
Obviously, he’d rather be on the practice field, seeing his players prepare for a massive game against No. 3 Georgia in person. It sounds like there may be something to his current setup, which gives him an overhead view of practice. He discussed it on Thursday, comparing the situation to one with another legendary Alabama coach.
Paul “Bear” Bryant famously oversaw Alabama football practice from a tower above the fields. It became something of an iconic piece of the fabric of the Crimson Tide program during his legendary tenure.
On this date in 1987, AD Steve Sloan announced that the tower used by “Bear” Bryant would be reinstalled, calling it “a symbol of Alabama football.” Crimson Tide Roll Call: https://t.co/ItS5JBposq pic.twitter.com/5Tg5vq0sdM
— Bama Central (@BamaCentral) January 10, 2020
Nick Saban compared his current situation of coaching from home with an overhead view to Bryant’s choice of using the tower.
Saban on watching practice via Zoom: “When you get the view from a thousand feet … it’s like watching game film.
“It was a little interesting. I guess that’s why Coach Bryant always stood up in that tower.”
— Charlie Potter (@Charlie_Potter) October 16, 2020
Of course, Saban can’t run over to the facility to chew out a player after a bad mistake, the way Bryant could hustle down his tower if he chose.
It is still not totally certain if there’s a situation in which Saban could make it back in time to coach Saturday’s huge game in person, but it doesn’t sound likely. If he isn’t cleared to coach, he will lose contact with the program 90 minutes before kickoff. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is set to serve as interim head coach in that case.
The Tide and Bulldogs kick off in Tuscaloosa at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night. CBS has the broadcast.
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