Alabama coach Nick Saban has questioned an NCAA rule that prohibits him from training remotely during Saturday’s game against Georgia.
Saban, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, still left open the possibility of being at Bryant-Denny Stadium for the game – probably in case his test is found to be false positive.
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“I don’t know exactly what it is. But there has to be a better way to do it. You have to have some kind of communication on the side, just like I have communication with someone on the field during a workout. I can’t” talk directly to a player. but I can say, “Tell 22 he had to redirect the man,” or something.
“You can’t have any of that.” This does not seem entirely correct. I think maybe you could do without an assistant, if you have to. Maybe a little harder if the coordinator calls the plays and maybe you don’t have someone who is effective at it or has experience in it. “
Saban’s comments came during his weekly radio show on Thursday night, in which he appeared from his home office a week after making his first personal appearance at a local restaurant.
NCAA rules only allow voice communication between the press and the sideline. In an interpretation of rules specifically for quarantine coaches in 2020, written last month by the college’s national staff coordinator, Steve Shaw, it means, ” [quarantined] the coach cannot call the press or sideline for anything related to coaching purposes. “Shaw is a graduate of Alabama and a former head of the SEC.
“I just think it’s really hard that if you have to call up close, I’d just hate one of our staff to call up close and be criticized for it if it doesn’t work out,” Saban continued. “Because I don’t think that’s fair to them, if you know what I mean.
“I am being criticized. I understand the game. If you call and it works and works, it’s a good conversation. If you call and it doesn’t work, it’s a bad call. It’s so simple. I realized this. But if an assistant on your staff has to make one of these types of calls, and if it doesn’t work, I’d hate to see someone criticized for something that probably shouldn’t even be their responsibility to start with. “
Saban was then asked why the long-standing rule banning most gaming technology could not be changed in special circumstances in 2020.
“Well, there are smarter people than me in positions that make such decisions,” Saban said. “I’m not critical of anyone, but I’d hate not being in the game on Saturday – if that turns out to be the case – and I’d hate not being, at least have headphones where I could communicate with the sidelines, even if you’re isolated in the press.
“Even if you couldn’t enter the locker room and communicate with the players, you could still increase the scale with the players. So there are ways to do this when you would not harm anyone. But I also really believe in the safety of everyone, not just the players on our team or the coaches. So there needs to be some logistical stuff that could be developed so you can do something like this. “
Saban also reiterated that offensive coordinator Steve Sargsyan, a former head coach of Washington and USC, will lead the team in his absence.
“Our contingency plan, due to the experience gained by the staff, would be for Sark to be the person who was the head coach to have made such decisions in the past,” he said. “I think we are philosophically very close in how we think about these situations. He is a very smart man. All the time he [was] head coach, he was a player. So it will not affect him from this point of view. This will not take away his ability to shout. “
Mike Rodak is an Alabama beaten reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.