Nick Saban Could Coach Alabama Against Georgia Four Days After Testing Positive for COVID

Alabama head coach Nick Saban could be on the sideline for the Crimson Tide's game against Georgia on Saturday, just four days after testing positive for COVID-19.

Saban returned a positive test on Wednesday afternoon, but could be cleared in time to take charge of his team when Alabama hosts its SEC rival in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night.

SEC guidelines state that if an individual returns three consecutive negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and remain asymptomatic, they can be "released from isolation and medically cleared to return to athletics activities only."

The second two tests have to be returned within a 24-hour span.

Saban has shown no symptoms of the virus so far and ESPN college football insider Heather Dinich suggested he could be taking charge of the Crimson Tide on Saturday.

"I got confirmation from the SEC office that if Nick Saban or anyone else for that matter were to get three straight negative PCR tests and remain asymptomatic, they could leave isolation and rejoin the team," Dinich said on College Football Live Thursday.

"It's important to note that Nick Saban is asymptomatic. He's continuing to be tested daily. if he gets three negative tests, you could see him on the sideline against Georgia, which as of now, remains on."

Alabama said that Saban was being evaluated on a daily basis.

"Coach Saban was evaluated by our team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson today," a statement read.

"Coach remains asymptomatic at this point and is doing fine. He is continuing to self-isolate and will remain in the SEC testing protocol while being evaluated daily."

Saban, who will turn 69 at the end of the month, appeared on his weekly radio show from home on Thursday night and said he was feeling well.

"I'm doing great," he said. "I don't have any symptoms. I don't have a fever. I would hate to not be at the game Saturday if that's what this turns out to be."

The six-time national title winner added that despite his diagnosis he had adopted a business-as-usual approach during the week, overseeing practice via Zoom on Wednesday and Thursday. However, he won't able to be in touch with his team on Saturday as SEC rules prevent in-game communication between him and anyone on the staff while he remains in quarantine. Obviously, Saban cannot travel to the stadium either.

The college football veteran suggested being prevented from communicating with his team on Saturday didn't feel right, but conceded there were logistical obstacles to clear to allow him to be involved in some capacity.

"There's ways to do this so you wouldn't be putting anyone in harm's way," he said. "But I also believe in the safety of all the people [...] so there would have to be some logistical things to work out."

Ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively in the AP Top 25 poll, Alabama and Georgia are both 3-0 and arrive into the game as the only two teams left undefeated in the SEC, with the winner set to put itself in the driver's seat for a place in the conference title game this December.

Saban could extend his winning run against teams managed by his former assistant coaches to 22 games. The Alabama head coach entered the season with a 19-0 record against his former assistants and has already extended the streak with wins against Texas A&M and Ole Miss, who are coached by Jimbo Fisher and Lane Kiffin respectively. The former worked under Saban as offensive coordinator at LSU between 2000 and 2006, while the latter held the same position at Alabama between 2014 and 2016.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, meanwhile, worked for eight years under Saban in Tuscaloosa as assistant coach and then defensive coordinator.

Nick Saban, Alabama, Tua Tagovailoa
Nick Saban, head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, on the field before a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on November 16 2019 in Starkville, Mississippi. Saban tested positive to COVID-19 this week. Wesley Hitt/Getty