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Saban tests positive for COVID; Tide place Sarkisian in charge

Nick Saban is days away from coaching arguably college football's biggest game of this bizarre 2020 season.

Except, Saban likely will not be able to be on the sidelines when his No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide host No. 3 Georgia; Alabama revealed Wednesday afternoon that Saban has tested positive for COVID-19. 'Bama athletics director Greg Byrne also tested positive for the virus.

“Early this afternoon, we received notification that Coach Saban and Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19,” the university said in a release. “Both immediately left the facility and went to their homes to self-isolate after receiving that information.”

Alabama has placed offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the former Southern Cal head coach, in charge of the Tide's in-person preparations for Saturday's clash with the Bulldogs while Saban is in quarantine at home.

In its guidelines released in early September, before the league's season started on Sept. 26, the SEC announced that “An athlete with a confirmed infection must isolate for at least 10 days from the date of the positive test or the onset of symptoms.” It is presumed then that Saban would not be available on the sidelines Saturday against Georgia; Saban could return for the Tide's scheduled trip to Tennessee Oct. 24 if he has tested negatively and cleared protocols.

The Tide this summer dealt with a number of positive tests upon welcoming back student-athletes to campus for workouts and eventually fall camp. Saban said he is asymptomatic for the pandemic, which delayed the start of the college football season and has resulted in numerous game postponements --- most recently the SEC's Florida-LSU and Missouri-Vanderbilt games originally scheduled for Saturday.

“I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-19,” Saban said in the statement. “I immediately left work and isolated at home. At this time, I do not have any symptoms relative to COVID, and I have taken another PCR test to confirm my diagnosis. I informed our team of my positive test at 2 p.m. (CST) today and let them know offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will oversee preparations at the complex while I work from home.”