Right now the odds of Nick Saban being on the sidelines coaching for Alabama’s game against Georgia on Saturday appear to be unlikely, to say the least. After testing positive for COVID-19 just two days ago, Saban would need to provide three negative tests in order to be allowed back with his team. With one day to go and no new updates, all eyes have turned to offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
In his statement earlier in the week, Saban said that Sarkisian would “oversee preparations at the complex” while he works from the confines of his home. This also means should Saban be restricted to his own home come Saturday, Sarkisian would be the de facto head coach for the game and for however much time Saban may miss after that.
The idea of not having Saban for game day is concerning for Alabama fans, who haven’t experienced someone else in that position for over 13 years. Saban has provided a comforting stability to the program and now all of a sudden the Saban blanket has been ripped off of the Crimson Tide fanbase for the time being.
But what the supporters should know is that Sarkisian is the team’s best and most capable option to lead the team.
Nobody is saying that Sark is Nick Saban. There very well may never be another one, but what Sarkisian can be a winning football coach.
Saban noted in his Wednesday press conference that Sarkisian’s past head coaching experience influenced his decision to give him the onsite responsibilities. Although he never built a national title contender, Sarkisian has a 46-35 record as a head coach between Washington and USC.
Since then Sarkisian has grown immensely as an offensive coordinator and person, especially since he rejoined Alabama’s coaching staff. Since 2019 he orchestrated the Crimson Tide to posting the second-best offense in all of college football only behind the eventual champion LSU. This season the unit is ranked number three and is coming off a 723-yard performance against Ole Miss.
Sarkisian had also received multiple head coaching offers in the offseason which he had turned down in order to stay at Alabama. Whatever the reasoning was behind it, numerous schools believed that he was ready to take the next step and who’s to say that Sarkisian can’t step in and do an admirable job with a team he is already very familiar with.
Rough patches are to be expected throughout the game. What’s happened this week is unprecedented and thrown the team for a loop right before one of the biggest games of the season. But Saban’s fingerprints are still all over this team and if he has faith in Sarkisian’s ability to step in then maybe everyone else should too.
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77