University of Alabama head football Coach Nick Saban took followup coronavirus tests on Friday and Saturday that came back negative following an earlier test that came back positive. Saban also tested negative on Thursday, ESPN reports.
This means that Saban has been cleared to be on the field coaching Saturday’s football game against the University of Georgia. Georgia is coach by Kirby Smart, a longtime Saban assistant.
Since Saban tested negative three times, each 24 hours apart, under the SEC protocols, he is allowed to coach the team in Saturday night’s nationally televised game against Georgia at Tuscaloosa.
Breaking: Alabama coach Nick Saban has been cleared to coach in tonight's game against Georgia following a third negative COVID-19 test Saturday, the school announced. pic.twitter.com/gT5hecDdAk
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 17, 2020
Alabama is ranked No. 2 in the country while Georgia is ranked No. 3.
The SEC is playing a 10-game, conference-only schedule due to coronavirus concerns.
“I feel fine,” Saban said.
Saban has been asymptomatic with no fever or breathing difficulties to this point. The University said in a statement that it will follow all of the SEC coronavirus protocols. The SEC can fine universities who break the virus rules as much as $1 million.
Saban will be 69 years old later this month and is in the age demographic most vulnerable to a bad outcome from COVID-19.
Even though he has been in isolation Saban has continued with his game preparations.
“I can do absolutely everything here that I can do,” Saban told reporters Wednesday. “I’ll have the same exact routine. The first thing I do on Thursday morning is watch the defensive practice with the defense. Then we do two-point plays. Then I watch what we did against each other with the offense. Then I watch the offense practice and I watch special teams. Then I usually do a little write-up for two-point plays for the team. I’ll do all those things exactly like I always do it.”
If Saban could not have coached, then offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian would have coached Alabama tonight as interim offensive coordinator. Sarkisians was formerly the head coach at Washington and USC.
There have been 338 diagnosed coronavirus cases in Tuscaloosa County in just the last week. 130 residents of Tuscaloosa County have died in the pandemic.
The whole state of Alabama remains under a “safer-at-home” order through Nov. 8. Masks or cloth face coverings are required whenever you are in a public place or are within six feet of other people.