ATHENS — Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 before, but this time it’s real, and the Alabama head coach will in fact not be in the sideline for the Crimson Tide’s rivalry game with Auburn on Saturday.
Saban said on the SEC Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday that he was informed earlier in the day he had tested positive for COVID-19 and broke the news to his players at 11 am (eastern) via a Zoom call.
“It was a PCR test, which was different than the false positive I had before,” Saban said, referencing the news that broke Oct. 14 in the days leading up to the Georgia game.
“I don’t really have any cardinal signs of the virus right now. I don’t have a fever, no loss of taste or smell, no fatigue, no muscle aches,” the 69-year-old head coach said, acknowledging only having a runny nose. “I’m the only person in the whole organization that tested positive on this round.”
Alabama issued a statement earlier on Wednesday stating that Saban was experiencing mild symptoms, and that this test will not be categorized as a false positive.
Saban was able to coach against the Bulldogs in the Oct. 24 game by getting re-tested and having three consecutive negative tests, the final one clearing him the morning of a 41-24 win over Georgia.
The system Saban and No. 1-ranked Alabama had in place leading up to the game with UGA will be used once again, Saban said, with final details of how offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will handle game day operations still getting ironed out.
“When I went into a 3-day hiatus before the Georgia game, we had discussed exactly how we will do (operations), but we will be more specific about that later in the week,” Saban said. “I’m still going to do everything possible relative to our team for Saturday’s game with Auburn, participate in meetings and watch practice from home in isolation, which I did before.
“Sark will oversee things in the building in my absence. The last time I did this for three days I absolutely did everything from home that I did at the office, I just did it on zoom.”
Saban said it’s his understanding there has been no change to the rule that would prevent him from having contact with the sideline during the game.
“Sark has been a head coach for many years, and very successful at it,” Saban said. “He’ll still continue to call the plays, we won’t really change anything other than the fact that some of the administrative game day decisions he’ll have to be involved.”
Saban is baffled at how he could have contacted the COVID-19 virus, as he said protocols have been strictly adhered to in the Alabama football building and with his external actions.
“I have no idea; I’m around nobody,” Saban said. “I go home, and I go to the office, so i have no idea. There are some people in and out of our house on occasion, but I have no idea how this happened, I really don’t know.
“We really practice social tracing, social distancing, all the things that we need to do to be safe,” he said. “We’re always 6 feet apart in meetings, whether we have staff meetings in large rooms, where everyone is required and we all where masks, and players all wear masks in meetings.
Saban said the program will apply contact tracing protocol, but he’s not aware of any other staff members or players who could be considered contacts in regard to his diagnosis.