Alabama coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne have tested positive for COVID-19, three days before the second-ranked Crimson Tide is set to face No. 3 Georgia in a clash of Southeastern Conference and national powers.
Both said their tests Wednesday morning came back positive, but Saban said he didn’t have any symptoms by late afternoon.
"I immediately left work and isolated at home," Saban said.
Saban said offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, a former head coach at Washington and USC, will still call the offensive plays.
The 68-year-old coach has led Alabama to five national titles since taking over the program in 2007, and also won one at LSU.
Alabama’s head trainer Jeff Allen and medical director Jimmy Robinson said in a joint statement that Saban and Byrne were the only initial positive tests.
"All individuals who are considered high risk contacts have been notified and will follow quarantine guidelines," the statement said. "We will follow the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force Protocol for testing asymptomatic positives."
Byrne said he would "remain at home and follow all guidelines."
Saban wasn’t sure how game day will go when it comes to communication with his staff, but is confident he can still lead practices and run meetings from home via Zoom calls. He communicated with a team manager Wednesday when he saw a mistake in practice and wanted a play repeated.He plans to go through his usual Thursday routine, which includes watching the offense and defense practice, work on two-point plays, and will preside over meetings all from home.
"I didn’t leave the country or anything," Saban said. "I’m just right down the street. And we have this technology, so it’s really unique. Now, I don’t have experience at that. But we’re going to do the best we can to keep everything as normal as possible."
No. 10 Florida and defending national champion LSU are now scheduled to play in December. Unfortunately for coach Dan Mullen, the stadium still won’t be packed.
The Southeastern Conference postponed Saturday’s LSU-Florida game a day after Mullen had 19 players and coaches test positive for COVID-19.
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said Wednesday the number is now up to 21 positives with considerably more in quarantine because of contract tracing.Those players likely would have been unavailable against the Tigers, leaving Florida with fewer than 50 scholarship athletes and less than the SEC’s threshold (53) for holding games amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The game was tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12, the league’s built-in bye week before its annual championship. It’s the second SEC game bumped this week, following Missouri-Vanderbilt.Florida hosts Missouri next, on Oct. 24, and that game also could be in jeopardy.