Alabama Football: What happens if no Nick Saban for a game

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

If Nick Saban had to miss a game, who steps into the Alabama football, head coach role?

Alabama football fans are well versed in the belief Nick Saban has a plan for everything. Whether he 100 percent does or not comes down to the impossibility of planning for the unknown. When it comes to planning for knowns, be assured Nick Saban has a plan.

What happens  (perish the thought) Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19 and must be quarantined? More specifically, what happens if a quarantine forces Saban to miss a Crimson Tide game? It is most unlikely this will ever occur. Perhaps more likely is Saban entering a quarantine protocol and still coaching a game at Bryant-Denny. Rather than miss a game, Nick might choose to don a hazmat suit and coach from an otherwise empty, coaches box. The logistics of getting him in and out of Bryant-Denny without risking others would not be insurmountable. Achievable at home, but road opponents might not cooperate.

Is all this far-fetched? Of course, but the Reverend Hugh Freeze coached a couple of games from a hospital bed in a press box. As the coach at Liberty University, did Freeze benefit from some divine intervention? If so, it couldn’t have been more than a good Catholic, like Nick Saban, would receive.

Enough of fanciful wanderings! Let’s consider what might happen if Nick Saban could not be present at an Alabama football game. Who from the Crimson Tide’s deep bench of coaches would temporarily fill-in?

A former head coach makes the most sense. The Crimson Tide has plenty of them. Steve Sarkisian, Mike Stoops, Butch Jones, Charlie Strong and Major Applewhite offer a wealth of head coaching experience. Based on head coaching records, Applewhite is the least likely choice. Among the other four, Sarkisian makes the least sense. Using Sark as the head coach fills one void but creates another at offensive coordinator.

Choosing one from Jones, Stoops or Strong would have two major decision points. The most important is the confidence of Nick Saban. Not far behind Saban’s endorsement, would be the coach for whom the most players have the most respect. Time in the program might be the final determining factor. Charlie Strong is respected as a coach and as a leader, but has the least Crimson Tide experience. Based on Tuscaloosa tenure, Butch Jones would seem to have the edge. It is frequently said how well-liked Butch is among staff and players. The staff and players may love Butch, but for many Crimson Tide fans, a former Vol would be unacceptable.

Next. Fingers crossed as workouts build to football contact. dark

Should a fill-in be needed among the position coaches or coordinators, Nick Saban will have plenty of options. The Alabama football staff directory lists 10 other analysts, any of whom could handle a short promotion. The list does not include graduate assistants and former Crimson Tide players currently in other staff positions. The Alabama football complex is filled with former college players, a few who played for the Tide.