Nick Saban Cleared to Coach on Saturday Against LSU

The Crimson Tide's head coach was forced to watch the Iron Bowl from home after testing positive with COVID-19 last week
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama football head coach Nick Saban will return to the sideline at LSU this weekend after being cleared to return to the team on Thursday.

Saban made the announcement himself live on his weekly radio show, Hey Coach.

"Yeah I'll be there," Saban said. "I'm good. I think my time is up so I'm ready to get back in the swing of things. Even though I've been there for every possible thing — it's just been a little bit different — but now I can get back in person and do all the things we need to do without an issue or a problem."

"The medical staff makes all of those decisions based on the CDC timetables and all that but I'm clear tomorrow to travel with the team."

After over a week of conducting meetings with players and personnel over Zoom and viewing practices remotely through a computer monitor, Saban will indeed travel with the team on Friday to Baton Rouge, La. to take on the LSU Tigers.

To put it lightly, it's been a crazy week for Alabama football.

Last week saw head coach Nick Saban enter quarantine following a positive COVID-19 test. Then came the news on Friday that the Crimson Tide's game at LSU — which was originally scheduled for Nov. 14 but had to be postponed — had been rescheduled for Dec. 5.

Top that all off with a 42-13 victory over Auburn in the Iron Bowl and a head coach who is still quarantined in his home as of Thursday, and you start to get an idea of how wild of a week it's been.

Alabama enters its contest with LSU with an overall record of 8-0. Its matchup at Arkansas that was originally scheduled for this Saturday has been tentatively postponed but is expected to be rescheduled for Dec. 12. However, no former announcement has been made.

LSU, on the other hand, enters Saturday with an overall record of 3-4. 2020 has been a year of highs and lows for the Tigers program. While the year started with a national championship title, the loss of 14 starters to the NFL draft along with persistent COVID-19 issues within the program have led to a disappointing season.

Should the Crimson Tide be victorious over the Tigers, it will clinch the SEC West and will be guaranteed a spot at the SEC Championship game on Dec. 19 in Atlanta.

On Thursday night, Saban joined host Eli Gold once again on the weekly radio show, Hey Coach. While Saban joined from his home, Gold was situated at Baumhower's Victory Grille in Tuscaloosa.

Highlights from Hey Coach:

  • The show is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. CT. Saban typically joins the program at 7 p.m. while another guest will take to the airwaves for the first 30 minutes.
  • Coley Stickels, Alabama swimming and diving head coach, will be the first guest until Saban joins the show.
  • Today's media guest is Tom Rinaldi of ESPN. He'll be joining the show at approx. 6:55 p.m. CT.
  • Stickels stated that no fans will be allowed at the swimming and diving meets this season. "We don't get many fans as it is," Stickels chuckled.
  • Stickels just detailed the schedule of the swimming team. Typically (in a non-COVID season), the team swims, lifts or both every morning from 6-8 a.m., then at around 1 or 2 p.m. the team returns and will practice 4-5 hours until 6 p.m.
  • During COVID, the team is restricted to 20 hours of practice a week.
  • Tom Rinaldi has now joined the show.
  • Rinaldi just said that Saban is one of his favorite interviews. "He's certainly high on the list," Rinaldi said.
  • Saban has now joined the show from his office at home.
  • Saban said that he's feeling great. He also looks great.
  • Saban underwent a plasma treatment last week and said "it worked wonders." He said he had the symptoms of a strong head cold and a cough, but nothing worse.
  • "It was a tale of two cities," Saban said about watching the Iron Bowl at home upstairs while his wife, Terry, watched the game downstairs. Saban said that when something big happened in the game in favor of Alabama, he would be silent while she cheered. When something bad happened, he would curse out the television while she remained quiet downstairs.
  • "It was a true picture of the culture of anybody in the organization," Saban said of how his players and personnel adapted to COVID-19 and approached this season.
  • Rinaldi just asked what Saban has missed most since being in quarantine. His answer was short. "Being around the players," Saban said. He then noted about how he still sees them via Zoom, but to him it just doesn't feel the same.
  • Saban seemed almost sad when talking about how much he misses the players. Quite an emotional moment.
  • Rinaldi just asked Saban what game loss sticks out to him the most regarding what he learned from them. Saban pointed to the two national championship losses at Clemson. He regrets not calling a timeout in the first where Clemson won the game on the last play of the game. Regarding the blowout loss in 2019, 
  • Saban will be attending Saturday's game. "Yeah I'll be there," Saban said. "I'm good. I think my time is up so I'm ready to get back in the swing of things. Even though I've been there for every possible thing — it's just been a little bit different — but now I can get back in person and do all the things we need to do without an issue or a problem." He has been cleared to travel with the team.
  • "The medical staff makes all of those decisions based on the CDC timetables and all that but I'm clear tomorrow to travel with the team," Saban said.