The situation required one of Alabama’s staff members to hold up a phone as Crimson Tide players worked out Wednesday.
“I had the manager have a phone,” Saban said on the Zoom call with reporters during which he announced his diagnosis. “If I wanted a play repeated, I said, ‘Repeat that play. So-and-so messed up.’ I didn’t leave the country or anything. I’m just right down the street. And we have this technology, so it’s unique.”
Saban’s daughter confirmed his involvement — a coach doesn’t win five national titles without attending to every single detail.
“No symptoms,” Kristen Saban Setas tweeted. “He’s literally coaching practice from a Zoom call.” She included a flexing biceps emoji and reminded everyone just who her father is by adding, “I had permission to say this.”
Later, she tweeted, “My dad is feeling fine right now and he’s a [trouper]. I have faith he will overcome this quickly.”
Saban on Wednesday did not rule out coaching in Saturday’s game, which will carry major implications for the College Football Playoff but he admitted, “I’m not sure exactly how this is going to play out in terms of when the game comes.”
Under the SEC’s coronavirus protocol, asymptomatic individuals such as Saban must isolate and may take a second test within 24 hours of the first positive test. If that test is negative, two additional tests can be done, 24 hours apart. If the person remains symptom-free and has three successive negative tests, “they may be released from isolation and medically cleared to return to athletics activities only.”
That timeline indicates Saban would need to receive negative test results on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and be cleared immediately to be able to coach in the Georgia game.
If Saban remains in self-isolation Saturday night, he would not be allowed to coach remotely during the game, under guidelines set by College Football Officiating, a group created by the NCAA and commissioners of major athletic conferences to help standardize rules.
Rule 1-4-11-b allows “allows only voice communications between the press box and the team area, therefore in (a) the coach could not call into the press box or the sideline for anything related to coaching purposes,” according to an interpretation of the rules written for this season by Steve Shaw, the national coordinator of football officials.
Another rule calls for virtual communication on game day to be prohibited “90 minutes before the scheduled kickoff when the officiating crew assumes jurisdiction of the game and would include the time between periods until the end of the game when the Referee declares the score final,” according to Shaw’s interpretation of the rules.
Saban, who for months has publicly advocated for wearing masks, practicing social distancing and following other guidelines, reminded people in his Zoom announcement to “respect this disease.”
“I guess my message would be adhere to protocol of what people are informing us to do,” Saban said. “Wash our hands, wear a mask, social distance. All those things I think are important. You know, I always tell our players just assume everyone you come in contact with might be infected, and you might be infected and not know it and actually bring harm to them.
“I would be concerned for my own personal family. That’s about the only people I’ve been around other than the coaches and the players. I mean, I’m pretty isolated in terms of what I do, so I’m just hopeful that none of them have an issue or problem because of this.”