VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. — Prior to the annual Nick's Kids Golf Tournament at Old Overton Club, Alabama head football coach Nick Saban spoke to the media about the return to normalcy with his football program.
The annual golf tournament that benefits the Nick's Kids Foundation was postponed last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is back in full swing for 2021.
On top of discussing how the foundation benefits from the annual tournament and the return to normalcy that is signifies, Saban commented on how his football is also resuming normal activities.
“We’re excited to be able to get back to normal with a lot of things like we’re finally having players coming back to camp," Saban said. "We’ve got our players back on campus doing normal workouts at school. Just anything that we do that gets us back to normal makes me really, really happy and this is an event that we always look forward to and really missed being able to do last year so it’s great to be back here this year.”
On top of NCAA and SEC regulations being relaxed, local coronavirus guidelines in the state of Alabama and the city of Tuscaloosa have been relaxed, providing teams the opportunity to return to normalcy. With the COVID-19 vaccine now widely available, Saban's entire staff has been vaccinated and the players are currently undergoing that process.
Saban noted the progress of his players and personnel being vaccinated before fall camp resumes later this summer.
“I think we’re pretty close to being there," Saban said. "We’ve got a pretty significant number of people that have been vaccinated so we’re almost to the threshold where we won’t have to test. We’ve given every player the option to — whether he wants to do it or not — and we’ve had a pretty good response and we’ve had some really good educational meetings for the players so that they can make a good, intelligent decision about what they want to do and not do.
"We’re pretty much back to normal.”
The current SEC rules are that teams that have 85 percent of players vaccinated will no longer have to adhere to the mandatory surveillance — testing and other factors to ensure player safety.
With Saban updating the status of the team and revealing that his team is close to resuming completely normal activities for the fall, Saban said the now-normal summer programs will provide a great opportunity for leadership to emerge on the team.
"It’s always a work in progress, but I do think that the summer program is where the leadership on the team has the best chance to flourish because the coaches aren’t always around so the players have more input during seven-on-seven when the coaches aren’t allowed to be out there," Saban said. "We had our annual leadership on the lake thing last week. And I think the players are excited about the opportunity and the challenges that this season will bring."