Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday night that he’s feeling fine after receiving a positive COVID-19 test earlier in the day.
A hoarse Saban said he’s experiencing only mild symptoms like a runny nose.
He has gone into quarantine at home and must remain in isolation for at least 10 days before he can return to the team. In his absence, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will assume many of the head-coaching responsibilities.
Saban’s earliest possible return is the day before a Dec. 5 game at Arkansas. But, according to SEC protocol, “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 [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance for isolation.”
Saban said the thing he’ll miss the most about not coaching Saturday against Auburn is not being able to be there with the players.
“I know how important it is for a lot of them,” he said. “And I know how difficult it is sometimes when you have disruptions to overcome those. But we have a lot of very capable coaches. And the biggest thing I’m going to miss about it is being with our players, being a part of our team and helping those players have the best opportunity to be successful.”
Saban said he’ll watch the game from home via a live feed similar to an all-22 camera angle that coaches use to analyze games. Rules prohibit coaches from participating in games remotely, so Saban won’t have contact with players or the coaching staff during the game.
“So we’ll do the best we can to try to analyze what’s happening and see if there’s any way we can be of some kind of use,” he said. “But I have confidence in our coaches and our players that they’ll be able to do what they have to do. I mean, we’ve all got to live with the consequences of what happens whether I’m standing there or not. So that’s something I hope everybody realizes.”
Sarkisian, who was previously head coach at Washington and USC, will continue to call plays on offense in addition to overseeing the program while Saban is away.
Last month, Saban received what was eventually deemed to be a false positive test. After initially testing positive, he had three consecutive negative tests and was able to coach the Crimson Tide’s win over Georgia.
Alabama is undefeated and is No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
At least 18 FBS head coaches have tested positive for COVID-19 this season, including two from the SEC: Florida’s Dan Mullen and Arkansas’ Sam Pittman.
Saban said he doesn’t know how he contracted the virus.
“I’m around nobody,” he said. “I go home, and I go to the office. I have no idea.”