Nick Saban Says Alabama Will Use Safety Protocols Ahead of College Football Playoff

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 21, 2021

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 04: Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on before the SEC Championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 04, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama head coach Nick Saban told reporters on Monday that the team was once again utilizing its COVID-19 pandemic safety protocols from a year ago, which includes social distancing during team meetings and wearing masks in the facilities. 

"Am I concerned?" he said. "I'm always concerned when there's an issue out there, and we want to do the best we can to help our players be concerned about the issue and respect it so they have the best opportunity to stay safe."

Saban said that more than 90 percent of the Crimson Tide's roster is vaccinated and has received the booster shot.

"They're really bought in to do everything they can to stay safe," he said. "There's no guarantee, so we want to use every protocol we can to help them stay safe."

Saban's comments come at a time when COVID-19 and Omicron variant have yet again become a major storyline across professional and college sports. A number of players across the NFL, NBA and NHL have missed time and multiple games have been postponed across all three sports in December. 

Alabama's players, who practiced Monday, will get a few days off before traveling to Texas on Dec. 26 ahead of a College Football Playoff semifinal against Cincinnati on New Year's Eve at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).

"We educate the families," Saban told reporters. "We give them a care package with everything they need to stay safe and we have implemented all the protocols here since we've been back that we had last year in terms of wearing a mask in meetings, washing hands, social distancing in meetings and we're encouraging players to do that when they leave here."

The No. 1 Crimson Tide are 13.5-point favorites over the Bearcats. No surprises there after finishing the season by beating Arkansas, Auburn and Georgia. But getting to the Cotton Bowl Classic with as many healthy and available players as possible is key.