Nick Saban coaching Alabama football remotely after testing positive for COVID-19

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

Thus far, not much has changed for Nick Saban. He’s still watching every rep of practice, he’s still typing up reports on game situations, he still asks for plays to be repeated when a player misses his assignment.

All that’s different is he’s doing it from home, as opposed to his office and the practice field.

Saban began working from home just before Wednesday’s practice after he tested positive for COVID-19. After informing the team of his positive test via Zoom, he led practice remotely as UA continued to prepare for Saturday’s game against Georgia. In a Thursday statement, UA said Saban remains asymptomatic.

He had a manager on the phone relaying requests to repeat plays when he deemed necessary.

"I can do absolutely everything here that I can do,” Saban said. “I’ll have the same exact routine. The first thing I do on Thursday mornings is watch the defense’s practice, then we get into two-point plays, then I watch what we did against each other with the offense, then I’m gonna watch the offensive practice and then I’ll watch special teams.

"I usually do a little write-up for two-minute and two-point plays for the team. I’ll do those things exactly like I always do it.”

Saban said multiple times that he has been asymptomatic, and added as long as he remains asymptomatic he will have daily PCR testing to confirm the initial positive test. He is not currently worried about his health.

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, a former head coach at both Washington and USC, will take on additional responsibilities in Saban’s in-person absence. Saban was hesitant to assign gameday duties to any coaches, given more positive tests could come at any point and they have yet to hear from the SEC on potential gameday communication from Saban remotely, should he still be quarantined when the game starts.

If Sarkisian is to serve as a head coach, he will keep his duties as the offensive play-caller. Saban said the staff developed contingency plans to replace any of them in the event they have to miss a game; safeties coach Charles Kelly, for instance, missed the Missouri game, with analyst Mike Stoops taking over many of his responsibilities.

As it relates to preparing for the Georgia game without his physical presence, Saban said the team has handled its share of adversity and can handle this, too.

“I didn't see anything different about practice,” Saban said. “I got to see a lot more because when you look at it wide-angle you see a lot more than when you're just standing on the field, but I thought the intensity was good, the focus was good, the players were trying to get it right. So I didn't really see anything any different.

“I can tell you, we've had a lot worse practices when I'm there, so maybe it was a good thing that I wasn't there.”

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