Several college football teams have faced COVID-19 outbreaks in recent weeks, to the point that the Florida vs. LSU game was postponed to December. Now one of the sport's biggest programs has been impacted. Alabama head coach Nick Saban has tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the school made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon. Saban will now have to go into isolation, as will Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne, who also tested positive. Meanwhile, questions surface about the upcoming game. No. 2 Alabama has a matchup with No. 3 Georgia on the schedule for Saturday afternoon. This game is very important to the SEC race, but it will not be in doubt following the news of Saban's positive test.
"I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-19," Saban said in a statement. "I immediately left work and isolated at home. At this time, I do not have any symptoms relative to COVID, and I have taken another PCR test to confirm my diagnosis. I informed our team of my positive test at 2 p.m. today on a Zoom call and let them know offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will oversee preparations at the complex while I work from home."
With the news of Saban's positive test, Twitter users immediately began arguing. Some said that everyone needs to calm down and that Saban will be healthy again in a week. Others disagreed and called for the season to end. The arguments continued as more and more people saw the news.
If the Alabama-Georgia game proceeds as planned, the Crimson Tide will have someone with head coaching experience on the sidelines. Sarkisian previously served as the head coach for the USC Trojans and Washington Huskies. He also spent time as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.
Positive tests have caused issues with multiple teams in recent weeks. Baylor's football team is not currently practicing due to 28 players having coronavirus. A previously-scheduled game against Oklahoma State will move to Dec. 12. Similarly, Vanderbilt's game against Missouri was postponed due to positive tests on the Tennessee team. Florida also suspended all football operations after several players tested positive for coronavirus, resulting in the postponement of the LSU game.
"The University of Florida football team has experienced an increase in positive COVID tests among players this week. Out of an abundance of caution, team activities are paused as of Tuesday afternoon," Florida Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement. "Head coach Dan Mullen has been in communication with football players and their parents, and I have had conversations with the Southeastern Conference office, last week's opponent Texas A&M, and this week's opponent LSU."