Nick Saban Talks Steve Sarkisian's Iron Bowl Performance

The former USC head coach served as interim head coach for Alabama while Nick Saban recovers from COVID-19 at home.
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Earlier this week it was reported that Nick Saban had tested positive for COVID-19.

Just one month ago Nick Saban received the news that he had tested positive for Coronavirus. Despite isolating at his home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Saban remained asymptomatic. After three follow up COVID-19 tests, all with negative results, Saban's original test was deemed a false positive. This time around the Crimson Tide is not taking their chances. Due to Saban experiencing "mild" symptoms, the 69 year old will have to isolate for at least 10 days, which would put his return on December 4th.

Due to self isolation rules and COVID-19 protocols, the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide was not able to be present for Alabama's matchup against Auburn for the classic Iron Bowl rivalry. 

Per ESPN,

"With Saban ruled out against Auburn, the head-coaching duties [fell] to offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian, who was previously a head coach at USC and Washington, had been designated for head-coaching duties after Saban's positive test in October. Sarkisian will continue to call plays on offense.

"We won't change anything other than some of the administrative, game-day decisions he'll have to be involved in," Saban said.

Even though Saban was allowed to remotely contribute to practice preparations  leading up to the game against Auburn, Sarkisian was given the reigns come game day as rules prohibit coaches from participating in game-day activities remotely.

However, despite Saban's absence, the Crimson Tide dominated the Tigers in a 42-13 victory. To add, Sarkisian's offense went three-and-out on its opening possession of the game, which is a rare sight for the Crimson Tide in 2020. 

After the game, Saban spoke with the media from his home and credited the Iron Bowl victory to not only the players but his coaching staff.

"It's a great win for our players and coaches," Saban said postgame. "I think everybody stepped up and did a really good job today. I think the energy was good. The offense made a lot of explosive plays out there and the defense played well. I know this is a big game for all of our supporters."

"Sark did a nice job of managing things. I sat here and felt a little helpless, but I could see things and yell at things.”

Despite Alabama keeping a steady lead over the Tigers throughout the entire game, Saban mentioned that he was impressed with Sarkisian's play calling and preparation for the game.

"I didn’t think there was a lot of those real tough situations that came up. A couple of times we made it on third down, but we could have gone for it on fourth down. Those decisions didn’t really come up. I thought he was well prepared for what he needed to do, and I think he did a really good job.”

Due to self isolation protocols, Saban is not expected to return until one day prior to the Crimson Tide's matchup against Ed Orgeron's LSU Tigers. If Saban is unable to take the field due to lingering COVID-19 symptoms then the play calling will likely default back to Sarkisian once again. If this happens, fans could very well see two former USC coaches Steve Sarkisian and Ed Orgeron battle it out for victory in Baton Rouge.

[READ: Nick Saban Tests Positive For COVID-19, Steve Sarkisian]

[READ: Will Los Angeles COVID-19 Guidelines Impact Pac-12 Football Teams]

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