Alabama's Nick Saban Cleared to Coach vs. Georgia After 3 Negative COVID Tests

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2020

Alabama head coach Nick Saban watches as the South squad runs drills during practice for the Senior Bowl Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has been cleared to coach in Saturday night's game between the No. 2 Crimson Tide and No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs.

According to Stewart Mandel of The Athletic, the University of Alabama announced that he has tested negative for COVID-19 three straight times, and his initial positive test was a false positive.

The SEC released the following statement regarding Saban:

Saturday's game between Alabama and Georgia will have a huge impact on the SEC landscape, as they are the only two undefeated SEC teams this season at 3-0.

Saban and Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne both tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. At the time, Saban said he wasn't experiencing any symptoms: "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."

The 68-year-old coach was isolating at home and performing any coaching duties he could from there while offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was running practices.

The former University of Washington and USC head coach likely would have been the acting head coach had Saban not been permitted on the sidelines.

The uncertainty surrounding Saban could have thrown Alabama off in any week, but it may have been particularly distracting leading up to such an important game.

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With both Bama and Georgia sitting at 3-0, it is possible that Saturday's contest could be a preview of the SEC Championship Game. This week's loser can ill afford to drop another this season if it wants to be part of the College Football Playoff.

The Tide are coming off a tough game against Ole Miss that saw them surrender 48 points, although they prevailed 63-48 thanks to running back Najee Harris' five-touchdown performance.

Meanwhile, Georgia beat a Tennessee team that was ranked No. 14 last week 44-21, and the Bulldogs have won their three games by an average of nearly 24 points this season.

Georgia figures to pose a major threat to Alabama's undefeated record, but Saban's presence should at least provide the Tide with some comfort.