Nick Saban won’t be able to coach remotely on Saturday night against Georgia.
Saban is set to miss the game because he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. Saban said he is currently asymptomatic and feeling fine and has coached practices remotely with the help of video and audio feeds from No. 2 Alabama’s practices.
But he won’t have that ability on Saturday against the No. 3 Bulldogs. NCAA rules prevent a coach from being able to communicate with his staff and players while watching the game from another location.
“If you’re the head coach, there ought to be a better way to do it,” Saban said during his radio show Thursday night (via Bama Insider). “I don’t know exactly what that is, but there should be a better way to do that. You ought to be able to have some communication with the sidelines just like I have communication with somebody on the field during practice.
“I can’t directly talk to a player, but I can say, ‘Tell 22 that he was supposed to reroute the guy,' or whatever. You can’t have any of that, and that doesn’t seem quite right.”
According to the NCAA’s rules, the only communication can happen from the press box to the field. So if Saban was isolating in a suite in the press box, it’d be no big deal. But since he’s going to be completely off-site, he’s unable to do any real-time coaching. Former USC coach and current Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is the interim coach in Saban’s place.
The rule makes sense. And was obviously written in an era when COVID-19 didn’t exist. If Saban was feeling OK and was dealing with an illness that wasn’t a highly contagious virus, he’d likely be on the sidelines Saturday night.
Instead, he’s following all protocols and will watch the game like most of us.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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