Will Nick Saban make a difference in Alabama football’s next game?
Nick Saban was diagnosed with COVID-19, but he is somehow one negative test away from being available to coach on the sideline for Alabama football’s game. Alabama plays against the Georgia Bulldogs today, and we still don’t know for certain if their head coach will be available.
At this point, the question is valid. How much of a role does Nick Saban actually play on a game day? Saban is obviously the best head coach in college football, but does that matter once the game begins?
Nick Saban has many tasks as Alabama football’s head coach. He recruits the best players in the country. He develops elite defensive game plans for every opponent. In practice, he helps get the best out of every player. However, none of these tasks have anything to do with playing the game itself.
On Saturdays, Nick Saban turns into more of a supervisor than a head coach. Coordinators call plays, position coaches develop talent, but Saban oversees the entire operation. With the faith that he has in his coaching staff, Saban does not have to do much during the game itself.
What types of things does Nick Saban actually do for Alabama football that will be impacted by his availability? For starters, he makes decisions that impact the entire team. He has the final say about going for it on fourth downs, when to kick or punt and if Alabama needs to try an onside kick. These decisions might not have to be made, but it will depend on how the game goes. He also determines when to accept or decline penalties, but Steve Sarkisian has the football IQ to make these decisions.
The most important thing that Nick Saban does is probably his halftime speech. Assistant coaches will make adjustments, but Saban will address the team as a whole. This motivation will have an impact on the game, and Alabama would certainly benefit from having him available to do this.
I would argue that Nick Saban’s most important contributions to this game have already happened. If he was able to efficiently coach practices while staying in quarantine, the Crimson Tide should be just fine. We’ll see later tonight.