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Fourth & Long: An Unfortunate Day in the SEC

Nick Saban Tests Positive for COVID-19

On a normal Wednesday in Tuscaloosa, head coach Nick Saban was did something he’s never done in his coaching career. He got up and left the Alabama facilities and went home. No, Saban was not quitting, although I’m sure some SEC coaches wish that was the case. Saban left the facility after he was told he tested positive for COVID-19. Coach Saban left right away after he was told. He headed home and self-isolated. However, Saban wasn’t the only Crimson Tide staff member to test positive. Athletic Director Greg Byrne also tested positive for the virus. With a huge gaming coming up on Saturday, when the Tide host Georgia, this may have a major impact on the game. Obviously everyone wishes Coach Saban the best. Nobody wishes that on others. However, don’t be surprised if you see Saban at the game Saturday, not on the sidelines, but up in a press box by himself.

“I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-19,” Saban said in a 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.” (ESPN)

Saban is now working from home and communicating with his assistants. He also was upbeat in meeting with the press through a Zoom call. Saban even joked around telling reporters, “something must be bad wrong — as much as I look forward to these Wednesday press conferences — for me not to be there with you today.” (ESPN)

Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian has been put in charge of game day preparations. Alabama plans to test all the players headed into this weekend’s huge match-up versus Georgia. Saban was hopeful he’d be able to communicate with his coaches on Saturday. “We’ll have to research and sort of figure that one out.” (ESPN)

LSU at Florida Has Been Postponed After COVID Spike

When the SEC sent out a memo last week about punishments for breaking COVID-19 protocol, I think the teams took that pretty seriously. LSU should be traveling to “The Swamp” this weekend, however this SEC heavyweight fight has been postponed. It has tentatively been re-scheduled for December 12, the SEC’s built in bye week.

Florida had a spike in positive tests this week, leaving them with no option other than to postpone the game. The Gators have 18 positive tests for scholarship players, and three positive tests among walk-on players. That leaves Florida with less than 50 scholarship players available on Saturday. Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said there is suspicion that the spike was caused by the Gators trip to College Station last weekend.

“It can sneak up on you in a hurry,” Stricklin said. “The key thing is you’ve got to have the ability to push the brake when things start to occur like what we’re seeing right now. You’ve got to be willing to hit pause occasionally. The SEC schedule was set up with an event like this in mind. As much as we want to give our kids the opportunity to compete, we understand this isn’t a normal year and we’re going to have the ability to adapt to unusual circumstances such as this.” (ESPN)

All of this comes after Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen expressed to the media he wanted a packed “Swamp” for the game Saturday. Apparently karma is real with this virus. This is the second SEC game postponed this week along with Missouri vs Vanderbilt. However, Florida plays Missouri on October 24, next week, and that game could be in jeopardy as well.

“Well, it’s hard to speculate right now,” Stricklin said. “Obviously we’ll be in communication with the Southeastern Conference and probably get Missouri, obviously as our next opponent, to kind of keep them abreast of what we’re seeing, and we’ll continue as I said our regular testing protocol for those who aren’t in quarantine, and hopefully we don’t have any more positives and we’re able to get on the other side of this and then we can get everyone back in a situation where you can go compete again.” (ESPN)

I understand this is just football, and getting the virus is no joke. We all wish the best for Nick Saban, Greg Byrne, and the Florida players that have the virus. On the Fourth & Long, my co-host and I discussed the question of why the virus is hitting the NFL hard, but not as much in college. Well folks, with the postponement of two games, and arguably the best college football coach in history contracting the virus, I would say this week is a wake-up call to everyone. Follow mandatory protocol, and stay safe.

Other Notes From CFB

  • Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte came out and said players need to stand for the singing of “The Eyes of Texas.” This comes after head football coach Tom Herman said that he and his players had discussed standing for the song. The school has been studying the meaning of the song, and if it has racial undertones.
  • It was announced yesterday that teams did not have to maintain a .500 record to be bowl eligible. This is bad for the smaller schools. A three win South Carolina will get a bowl invite over a 5-1 Toledo Rockets. The bowls are much more exciting for the small schools, so taking this away from them is not a good look.
  • The Pac-12 announced it would allow families of players and coaches to attend games, where it is permitted.
  • In a recent survey of 6,200 college athletes 1,200 coaches and athletic staff, most of those surveyed still think racism is a problem in college football, and throughout the country.

Again, best wishes to Nick Saban and all athletes, staff, and coaches who have the virus. Is this a look into the future, where COVID-19 forces college teams to cancel seasons? Or is this just a blip on the radar? We will see in the coming weeks. However everyone out there, make sure you stay safe and follow all protocols.

Enjoy this Alabama vs Georgia Hype Video to make you feel better!

Georgia Hype
Game of the Year Hype

Follow Me on Twitter: @BrownlojCLE

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