- Alabama head coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will handle team preparation and coach Saturday’s game against Georgia.
- The SEC has been hit hard by COVID-19 this week with two games postponed.
The SEC has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic this weekend and Wednesday afternoon brought another blow. The Alabama athletic department announced that head coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The positive tests come just three days before one of Alabama’s biggest games of the year hosting #3 ranked Georgia.
Alabama athletic department’s ranking medical personnel Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allen released a joint statement:
“Early this afternoon, we received notification that Coach Saban and (AD) Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19. Both immediately left the facility and went to their homes to self-isolate after receiving that information. At this point in time, the positive tests are limited to those two individuals. All individuals who are considered high risk contacts have been notified and will follow quarantine guidelines. We will follow the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force Protocol for testing asymptomatic positive.”
Crimson Tide head coach Saban released a statement explaining how his diagnosis will impact the coaching assignments for the game against Georgia:
“I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-1. 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.”
Athletic Director Byrne also released a statement indicating that the team and personnel have been taking virus mitigation protocol seriously:
“Today, I received notice that my COVID-19 test from this morning came back positive. Upon hearing the news, I immediately entered self-isolation and will remain at home and follow all guidelines. We’ve been diligent about mask-wearing and social distancing from the start and want to continue to encourage you all to take the necessary precautions to help stop the spread of this virus for yourself and those around you.”
The 68 year old Saban said he was feeling fine before the positive test and surprised by the diagnosis:
“I feel fine, so I’m not really concerned that much about my health, but you never know. Look, I basically feel like when we’re in our own personal bubble here everybody is in a much safer place. I think as soon as you travel you get exposed to a lot more things and a lot more people.”
The positive COVID-19 tests of Saban and Byrne did get a notificiation on the Don Best feed but so far there hasn’t been any significant impact on the line or total in the Georgia/Alabama game:
Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has plenty of head coaching experience–he was head coach at Washington from 2009 to 2013 and at USC in 2014 and 2015. He’ll be on the sidelines for the game but at this point it’s unclear to what extent Saban will be involved. Sarkisian usually calls the offensive plays so that component won’t change.