Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19, will not coach Alabama football against Auburn

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19 and is not expected to coach against Auburn on Saturday. He is mildly symptomatic. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will act in the head coach role against the Tigers and for the remainder of Saban's time in quarantine.

"This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19," Dr. Jimmy Robinson and UA head trainer Jeff Allen said in a statement. "He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a potential false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home."

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Saban said on the SEC teleconference that he has a runny nose, but none of the "cardinal," symptoms of the virus, such as fever and loss of taste or smell.

Saban also pointed to Sarkisian's experience as a head coach and said they covered his responsibilities in that regard while Saban was working through the protocol on his previous false positive test.

Saban previously tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 14, days before the Georgia game. Saban entered self-isolation and continued daily testing, eventually registering the three negative tests required to confirm the first one as a false positive, allowing him to coach against Georgia.

This positive test comes after Alabama had at least eight backup players absent from the Kentucky game with no injury explanations given.

Saban was apprehensive to release his players from campus during the open weekend of Nov. 7, fearful of the players getting exposed to COVID-19 while outside of the team's controlled environment.

"I really didn’t want them to go anywhere and leave their bubble, but I didn’t have the heart to tell them that they couldn’t go home and see their families," Saban said. "So the one place where our players were allowed to go was home. That was it. If you weren’t going home you needed to stay here and be in the bubble. The protocol that we took was we had a meeting with every player who was leaving to reinforce social distancing and things that they needed to do. We gave them a packet of sanitary things that would help them be able to do that, whether it’s a mask, hand sanitizer, whatever it might be. And then we set up video conferences with each family that they were going to go visit."

When Saban first tested positive for COVID-19, he was adamant that he could do all of his normal preparation tasks remotely.

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"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.”

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson