Oct 4, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien walks off the field after a loss to the Minnesota Vikings at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Saban interested in Gase, O’Brien for OC role

Nick Saban is reportedly interested in discussing Alabama’s vacant offensive coordinator job with fired NFL head coaches Adam Gase and Bill O’Brien.

According to a report from The Athletic, Gase and O’Brien are “two of the coaches Nick Saban is considering for Alabama’s soon to be vacant offensive coordinator role.”

Gase was a graduate assistant under Saban at LSU. O’Brien, who coached with the New England Patriots before jumping to the college ranks at Penn State and then to the Houston Texans, also has ties to Saban.

Steve Sarkisian serves his final game as offensive coordinator on Jan. 11 in the College Football Playoff national championship game against Ohio State. Sarkisian was hired as the new head coach at Texas.

Offensive coordinator at Alabama has been a springboard job for other coaches, including Lane Kiffin, Doug Nussmeier, Jim McElwain and Major Applewhite.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA;  A prerecorded message from Alabama head coach Nick Saban is shown on the big screen at Bryant-Denny Stadium before the Iron Bowl against Auburn. Mandatory Credit: Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via USA TODAY Sports

Role Tide: Saban back to coach at LSU

Alabama head coach Nick Saban plans to be back on the sideline when the undefeated Crimson Tide visit LSU on Saturday.

The makeup game this weekend was originally scheduled for Nov. 14, but LSU was experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak in its program.

Saban, 69, tested positive for COVID-19 the day before Thanksgiving. By rule, SEC players or coaches can return to the team 10 days after experiencing symptoms and if they have no fever. Saban said Monday he has no fever and thereby sees no hurdles to him being the team’s head coach Saturday.

“I’m feeling fine, so you don’t need to worry about me,” Saban said on Monday. “And just to make it clear, I’ll be evaluated by the medical staff later in the week and they’ll make a determination as to when I come back. But I don’t anticipate any problems in being able to coach the game this week.”

With Saban at home, Alabama beat Auburn 42-13 in the Iron Bowl last week. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian served as head coach.

Alabama is 8-0 and will learn its spot in the latest College Football Playoff rankings release Tuesday. At 3-4, LSU is out of the running for a spot in the SEC championship or the playoff.

Alabama could secure its ticket to the SEC title game on Dec. 19 with a victory and a Texas A&M loss, but the Crimson Tide could still have a makeup game with Arkansas next week.

–Field Level Media

Dec 28, 2019; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day on the sidelines during the game against the Clemson Tigers in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl college football playoff semifinal game. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Day, Saban absences create minimal impact on odds

Ryan Day and Nick Saban are two of the most influential coaches in college football, but their absences on Saturday are not expected to put their teams on upset alert.

The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide moved from a 25-point favorite (-110) against the Auburn Tigers at PointsBet to 24.5 (-110) after Saban tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.

The Ohio State Buckeyes, who debuted at No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings, moved from a 29-point favorite (-115) to beat 2-3 Illinois to 27.5 (-110) after Day tested positive on Friday.

Both coaches will not be on the sideline on Saturday.

“The absence of Saban and Day aren’t really moving the numbers too much,” SportsBetting.com odds consultant Scott Cooley said. “The reason being is that you have two superior teams playing against two inferior teams, at least according to the power ratings and odds.

“If these matchups were creating spreads 10 points or less, then you’d see some adjustment or betting reaction for the coaches. But since we’re looking at almost four-score (under)dogs, it’s not going to move the needle.”

Ohio State isn’t planning to fly to Champaign until Saturday morning as it waits on more test results, according to reports.

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who also is associate head coach, will run the squad in place of Day.

“Coach Ryan Day is one of the individuals who has tested positive,” the school said in a statement. “He is in isolation and will not travel to Illinois or coach the team. Assistant head coach/defensive line coach Larry Johnson will serve as interim head coach of the Buckeyes on Saturday.”

Day reportedly would need to isolate for 10 days and be symptom-free for at least 24 hours before he can return to his coaching duties.

There were reports Thursday that an unknown number of Ohio State players in more than one position group have tested positive for COVID-19, leaving in doubt whether the Buckeyes (4-0) could play this weekend.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith reiterated that the team wants to play.

“I have spoken with Coach Day, and he is doing well physically,” Smith said. “I feel terrible for (Day) and for the members of the program who have been diagnosed with a positive test.

“Coach Day and this team have been true leaders in handling things so well throughout this pandemic. Our team wants to play this game, and we’re going to do everything we can to help make this happen. All of the decisions on the welfare of our student-athletes and staff members will continue to be guided by our medical staff.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2020; Oxford, MX, USA;  Alabama head coach Nick Saban before the game against Mississippi at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kent Gidley via USA TODAY Sports

Saban cleared to coach after third negative test

Alabama coach Nick Saban recorded a third straight negative COVID-19 test, clearing him to coach in Saturday’s showdown between the No. 2 Crimson Tide and No. 3 Georgia at Tuscaloosa, Ala., the school announced.

Saban, 68, revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and has remained asymptomatic. He worked from home while going through the testing protocol.

The school said Saban’s first negative result came back on Thursday. The other two tests — each administered 24 hours apart — came back on Friday and Saturday.

According to the school, three negative tests are indicative of the initial test being a false positive, freeing Saban to return to work.

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian had been overseeing preparations for the game with Saban away from the school.

Alabama and Georgia are both 3-0 overall and 3-0 in SEC play.

Coaches Blake Anderson (Arkansas State), Les Miles (Kansas), Mike Norvell (Florida State) and Kevin Sumlin (Arizona) have tested positive since Labor Day.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2020; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama head coach Nick Saban does his traditional pregame walk around at Bryant-Denny Stadium before the game with Texas A&M. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr/The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports

Alabama coach Saban tests negative in COVID-19 follow-up

Alabama coach Nick Saban received a negative result in follow-up COVID-19 testing, the school announced Friday.

The result leaves open the possibility for Saban to coach in Saturday’s showdown between the No. 2 Crimson Tide and No. 3 Georgia at Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Saban, 68, revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and has remained asymptomatic. He has since worked from home.

The school said Saban’s negative result came back on Thursday. Further test results are slated to come back on Friday and Saturday.

Alabama trainer Jeff Allen said if Saban has three negative tests, the initial test will be considered a false positive and Saban would be free to return to work.

“He will continue to remain in isolation and receive daily PCR tests,” Allen said of Saban in a statement. “Should he have three negative PCR tests through the SEC appointed lab, each 24 hours apart, the initial test would be considered a false positive pursuant to SEC protocols and he would be allowed to return.”

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has been overseeing preparations for the game with Saban away from the school.

Alabama and Georgia are both 3-0 overall and 3-0 in SEC play.

Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne’s positive test was also revealed by the school on Wednesday.

Saban is the fifth known FBS football coach to test positive for COVID-19 this season. Blake Anderson (Arkansas State), Les Miles (Kansas), Mike Norvell (Florida State) and Kevin Sumlin (Arizona) also have tested positive since Labor Day.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2020; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban wears a mask on the sideline as he coaches his team at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama defeated A&M 52-24. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr/The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports

Saban won’t rule out coaching Saturday

Alabama coach Nick Saban, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, isn’t ruling out the possibility of being on the sideline Saturday when the second-ranked Crimson Tide play host to third-ranked Georgia.

Saban said on his weekly Thursday radio show, “I’m doing great. I don’t have any symptoms. I don’t have a fever.”

As for potentially being on the scene Saturday, he could be present if he has three negative COVID-19 tests, the last two in a 24-hour span, per Southeastern Conference protocols.

Barring that, he wouldn’t be allowed to guide the Crimson Tide at all on Saturday, even remotely from home.

“The protocol is, if you’re in quarantine, you can’t have any remote access to the sidelines and you can’t go to the game, even if they put you in an isolated area,” said Saban, who turns 69 on Halloween. “So, never having thought much about that — and I’m not being critical here — if you’re the head coach, there ought to be a better way to do it.

“I don’t know exactly what that is. But there should be a better way to do that. You ought to have some kind of 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 re-route the guy,’ or whatever.

“You can’t have any of that. That doesn’t seem quite right.”

Saban added of putting the game strategy in the hands of his assistant coaches, led by offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, “I just think that it’s really tough that if you have to make a close call, I would just hate for somebody on our staff to have to make that close call and get criticized for it if it didn’t work. Because I don’t think that’s fair to them, if you know what I mean.”

The Crimson Tide football program issued a statement Thursday that read, “Coach Saban was evaluated by our team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson today. Coach remains asymptomatic at this point and is doing fine. He is continuing to self-isolate and will remain in the SEC testing protocol while being evaluated daily.”

Alabama (3-0, 3-0 SEC) will look for its sixth consecutive win over Georgia (3-0, 3-0).

–Field Level Media