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Saban: ‘Doing great,’ hoping to coach in UGA tilt

  • Covers the SEC.
  • Joined ESPN in 2012.
  • Graduate of Auburn University.

Alabama coach Nick Saban, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon, appeared on his weekly radio show from home on Thursday night and told listeners that he was feeling great and would hate to miss Saturday’s game against No. 3 Georgia.

“I’m doing great,” he said. “I don’t have any symptoms. I don’t have a fever.”

Saban said he would like to be a part of the game against Georgia but that COVID-19 protocol prohibits in-game communication with anyone on the staff while he is in quarantine and he cannot travel to the stadium while in quarantine, either.

But if Saban has three negative tests, including the second two in a 24-hour span, he could conceivably be cleared to return to athletic activities before Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa.

“I would hate to not be at the game Saturday if that’s what this turns out to be,” Saban said.

Still, Saban said, he wishes there was a way for a coach in quarantine to be able to participate, adding that it “doesn’t seem quite right” that he wouldn’t be able to communicate with his staff or players during a game from a remote location like his home.

“There’s ways to do this so you wouldn’t be putting anyone in harm’s way,” he said. “But I also believe in the safety of all the people … so there would have to be some logistical things to work out.”

Saban, who turns 69 later this month, said that he has been able to do a lot from home as he helps the No. 2 Crimson Tide prepare to face Georgia. He oversaw practice on Wednesday and Thursday via Zoom.

“I’ve done everything that I would normally do, I just have to do it from here — for now,” he said.

Alabama football released an update on Saban’s health status earlier Thursday, saying, “Coach Saban was evaluated by our team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson today. Coach remains asymptomatic at this point and is doing fine. He is continuing to self-isolate and will remain in the SEC testing protocol while being evaluated daily.”

SEC guidelines state that if an individual has three successive negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and remains asymptomatic, they may be “released from isolation and medically cleared to return to athletics activities only.”

Alabama, as is its policy, has not released any information about any subsequent tests and what they might have shown. Alabama is not likely to release that information until there is a resolution.

Saban told listeners to his show that he met with members of the leadership group on Thursday, joking with them that he’s “getting beat up on both ends” trying to work with his wife in the house.

“When I come there I can raise hell with you guys,” Saban said he told the players, “and now I’m here with Miss Terry and she’s raising hell with me.”

Saban also took a moment to thank all those who have reached out since his diagnosis.

“The support from so many people from all over the United States — phone calls, text messages, emails — have been wonderful,” he said. “It’s very uplifting the relationships you’ve made through the years and so many people who would be concerned about your well-being, and I really appreciate it and I want everybody to know that.”

Should Saban be unable to coach on Saturday, Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian would assume the role of head coach.

Sarkisian, who was head coach most recently at USC in 2015, would still maintain playcalling duties on offense.

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