Alabama coach Nick Saban has been cleared to coach against Georgia on Saturday night, per Adam Schefter.
Nick Saban posted a third straight negative test for COVID-19 and has been cleared to coach tonight vs. Georgia.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 17, 2020
Saban has had three consecutive negative COVID-19 tests — Thursday, Friday and Saturday — after what now appears was a false-positive test on Wednesday.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Saturday morning on College GameDay he expected Saban would be cleared, and had downplayed the potential distraction all week.
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (3-0) kick off against the No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide (3-0) at 8 p.m. (TV: CBS).
Saban had left the Alabama football facility on Wednesday after learning of his Wednesday morning test result. He revealed on College GameDay on Saturday that he had tested negative on each of the previous three days.
Saban said that gave him confidence that with Saturday’s negative COVID-19 result, it would be safe for him to return to the sideline.
“We’ve tested our players every day for the last couple months, and the fact we’ve had 240 tests the last two days that were all negative, not one positive,” Saban said. “The fact that I actually tested negative Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday popped, Thursday, Friday, negative.
“I have to trust in the doctors and the medical people who make these protocols safe for all of us.”
Saban also said Saturday, “I feel great, I’ve never had any symptoms, completely asymptomatic, no fever, oxygen levels are great, never been sick at all.”
The COVID-19 virus has, however, continued to wreak havoc on the SEC, with games between Vanderbilt and Missouri, along with Florida and LSU, cancelled.
The SEC juggled the league schedule on Friday night, moving the canceled games to the designed Dec. 12 makeup weekend, but also shifting the game dates for other teams.
Georgia was one of the teams affected.
The Bulldogs are now off next Saturday, their originally scheduled Oct. 24 game at Kentucky now postponed until Oct. 31 — which was previously an off-date.
Florida, which has had a stoppage in activity due to coaches and players testing positive for COVID-19, essentially has two of the next three weeks off leading up to the pivotal Nov. 7 showdown with Georgia in Jacksonville.
The game is a designated home game for the Bulldogs, but the UGA administration decided to continue playing the game at the designated neutral site rather than request the game be moved back to campus amid COVID-19 pandemic concerns.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey explained the schedule adjustments are par for the course in these unique times.
“This has been a season of adjustment, and flexibility is the key for us all,” Sankey said on College GameDay. “I’ve been focused on reality, so last night we introduced a series of scheduling changes knowing a disruption may still take place.
“The first step was to build flexibility into our schedule.”
Smart said because of that uncertainty, he keeps his Bulldogs focused on the game immediately in front of them.
“We’re not guaranteed any game past the one tonight. You don’t know how far it’s going to go. You don’t know what’s going to happen next,” Smart said Saturday. “All that you can control is who you play right now.
“In our league, every game counts, and you’ve got to count the ones you play first.”
SEC Statement on Nick Saban
“Upon being notified by the University of Alabama of a potential positive COVID-19 test result involving Nick Saban, the SEC Office provided and reviewed with the university the COVID-19 management requirements established by the SEC’s Medical Guidance Task Force and emphasized the need to comply with all local and state health policies.
“Consistent with the Conference’s COVID-19 management requirements, PAE, the third-party provider secured by the SEC to standardize and provide testing for the 14 member institutions, has utilized the authorized laboratory in processing and reporting the three tests 24 hours apart as necessary to satisfy the requirements of the Task Force policy regarding the handling of asymptomatic PCR positive tests.”