Nick Saban, head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not coach on Saturday against Auburn, the school announced Wednesday. He received the positive test Wednesday and is showing "very mild symptoms." Team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson and head athletic trainer Jeff Allen said that Saban would "follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home."
Saban, 69, said he was experiencing no major symptoms other than a runny nose. He also noted that no other players or coaches tested positive for the coronavirus. Not having Saban on the sidelines for Saturday's game will be different considering Alabama is playing its biggest rival. When Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn heard the news, he was surprised.
"I hope he makes a speedy recovery," he said to reporters on Wednesday via ESPN. "It's gonna be a really weird deal playing an Iron Bowl without Nick being there." Saban will have to isolate for at least 10 days, which would make his return to the team on Dec. 4, one day before the regular-season finale against Arkansas.
COVID-19 protocol in the SEC states: "At least 24 hours must have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and symptom improvement (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, etc.) has occurred, in accordance with current CDC guidance for isolation." With Saban out, Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will take over as head coach. However, Saban will keep up with the team via video conferences and watching practices at his home.
"You have to be able to deal with disruptions this year, and I think our players have been pretty mature about doing that," Saban stated. "So we just want to carry on the best we can. [Auburn] has a very good team and they're playing really well right now, so it will be a real challenge for us and we just have to continue to have great preparation."
Last month Saban received a positive COVID-19 test days before the team's game against the Georgia Bulldogs. However, after having three consecutive negative tests, it was determined that Saban's positive test was a false negative. He was able to coach in the team's win over the Bulldogs. Currently, Alabama is undefeated and No.1 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Saban has been Alabama's head coach since 2007 and has led the team to five nationals titles.