This has not been a good week for the SEC and COVID. Two games in the conference - Florida-LSU and Vanderbilt-Missouri - have been canceled. Then the Saban news broke. Each week that brings more positives - which is big negative - and every week college football has to contort itself a little more to coexist with COVID. And every week you wonder when the whole thing might just break apart beyond repair or reschedule.
As I type this, Saturday’s Alabama-Georgia game is a go and it seems very possible that Saban will be on hand. Although it’s minute-to-minute. Really, Georgia fans, don’t you want Saban there? Otherwise, this wrestling match will not have its heel. It would be like watching Star Wars with Darth Vader edited out.
If not Saban, the next coach up at Alabama is offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. As Saban told the Alabama media, he, of course, had “a plan for each coach on the staff as to what might happen.” He has a plan for every eventuality locked somewhere in his cave of potions and spells.
“We’ve just got to go from there. Just like if we lose a player, we have to do the same thing,” he said.
I started wondering then what if Sarkisian tested positive, too? Did that mean that Nancy Pelosi was next in the line of succession? And if so, Madam Speaker, pack a lunch (may we suggest both the ribs and the smoked sausage from Dreamland). For Georgia’s got some settling-up to do with the Crimson Tide.
At last report, thankfully, Saban has not suffered any serious symptoms. There is growing reason to believe he may not have even contracted the disease - although the conspiracy theorists will emerge like ants from a toppled mound if the coach does show. Keeping in mind that we’re all friendly rivals here and trying to put this college football thing in some perspective, every Bulldogs fan should wish him a safe, swift journey back to negativity.
If he can’t coach, how big a deal would it really be? His absence might affect this very large game less than a Georgia person hopes.
It’s unlikely that Saban’s assistants have all been off playing golf while he has been running the program. Immersed in the cult of Saban, they should have a very good idea of what the head guy would like to call on third-and-short.
As for the players, don’t you know they would be further motivated to win one for coach. Doesn’t everyone want to prove to dad he can do this without him?
The last count I saw, former assistants are 0-21 against Saban. He just goes down the row of desks and raps all their knuckles with a ruler.
That’s a number former assistant Kirby Smart literally laughs at. “What’s everybody’s record against coach Saban?” the Georgia coach mused earlier this week. “Everybody makes it about the assistants. I always laugh because I don’t know anybody the last 10 years who had a real good record against him. It’s not something I focus on.”
Here is a perfectly good chance for Smart to break that stranglehold, and it would be so much better for all concerned if Saban was there in the flesh, in all his vigor. Otherwise there’s a troublesome asterisk that is looking for a place to attach, like a barnacle to tanker.
Whether Saban is in quarantine or he beats his early diagnosis just like he beats most of the SEC East, nothing changes for Smart and Georgia. Either way, a win would be a precious thing.
Because if you beat Nick Saban’s team, you have beaten Nick Saban.