Saban expects to return to sidelines for Alabama-LSU game

LSU

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA – NOVEMBER 09: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts before the game against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Alabama coach Nick Saban expects to be back on the sidelines Saturday at LSU.

Saban, who tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday, had to watch the top-ranked Crimson Tide’s 42-13 victory over rival Auburn from home over the weekend while offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian ran the show.

“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.”

The 69-year-old coach has said he had only mild symptoms and no fever. The Southeastern Conference requires those with positive tests to remain isolated for at least 10 days from when they first started experiencing symptoms. They have to have gone at least 24 hours without a fever before being allowed to return.

That gives Saban a window to return against LSU Saturday night in a game that was postponed from Nov. 14 because of the Tigers’ COVID-10-related issues.

“Of course it will be big, I mean it’s Nick Saban,” Tide safety Jordan Battle said. “Everybody knows that. It wouldn’t change things too much. As you saw, we didn’t have Coach last week and we still stayed the course.”

Saban has continued to monitor practices from home and run meetings using zoom. He wasn’t allowed to communicate with his players or coaches during the Iron Bowl, including at halftime.

Alabama (8-0 SEC, overall; No. 1 playoff rankings) did have a head start for the LSU game from the first scheduled meeting. The Tide worked one day on the Tigers (3-4) during an open date and then Monday and Tuesday of game week before it was called off.

“Because we’ve had some experience with that, I think that’ll be beneficial to how we put the plan together,” Saban said.

Alabama still has a likely makeup game at Arkansas. The Tide could lock up a trip to the SEC championship game in Atlanta on Dec. 19 with a win over LSU or a loss by No. 5 Texas A&M at Auburn.

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