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