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Alabama's Nick Saban Tests Negative for COVID-19, Not Cleared for Georgia Game

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2020

FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2020, file photo, Alabama head football coach Nick Saban leads his team as they march on campus, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The mid-week news that Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19 added a challenging backdrop for the season’s first Top 5 matchup. Saban figures to be communicating his marching orders and input from home while offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is manning the show within the football building. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

University of Alabama associate athletics director for sports medicine Jeff Allen announced Friday that Alabama head football coach Nick Saban's latest PCR test for COVID-19 came back negative:

Chris Vannini 😷 @ChrisVannini

Update from Alabama. Nick Saban has since tested negative, but more testing will be done. Must have three negative tests, each 24 hours apart. https://t.co/V9jX9pmoJe

Allen noted that Saban's positive coronavirus test earlier this week came from an outside lab that Alabama has used to supplement SEC-mandated testing. Allen added that Saban is asymptomatic and doesn't have a fever.

If Saban has three consecutive negative PCR tests taken 24 hours apart, his initial positive result will be deemed a false positive.

It is unclear if Saban will be able to coach the team Saturday night when the No. 2 Crimson Tide host the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs.

After Saban and Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne initially tested positive this week, Saban said he was isolating at home.

The 68-year-old coach added: "I feel fine, so I'm not really concerned that much about my health, but you never know. Look, I basically feel like when we're in our own personal bubble here, everybody is in a much safer place. I think as soon as you travel, you get exposed to a lot more things and a lot more people."

Saturday's clash is huge for both Alabama and Georgia, as it will go a long way toward determining the SEC hierarchy, as well as the College Football Playoff picture.

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Georgia and Alabama are the only two undefeated teams in the SEC at 3-0 apiece, and they lead the East and West divisions, respectively.

The contest could be a preview of the SEC championship, which is a game Alabama and Georgia have met in twice before, including when the Crimson Tide defeated the Bulldogs 35-28 in 2018.

Alabama survived a tough challenge from Ole Miss last week, winning 63-48 behind the play of star running back Najee Harris, who rushed for 206 yards and five touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Georgia dominated a Tennessee team that entered the game ranked No. 14 in the nation, winning 44-21.

If Saban is not cleared to be on the sidelines Saturday, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will likely serve as head coach after taking over coaching duties during practice this week.

Sarkisian was the head coach at the University of Washington from 2009 to '13 and USC from 2014 to '15. He owns a career record of 46-35.

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