No. 2 Alabama will count the result of Saturday's game against No. 3 Georgia on Nick Saban's coaching record despite Saban missing the game after testing positive for COVID-19, a school spokesman told CBS Sports on Thursday.
In most cases, the NCAA gives schools impacted by the absence of a coach the option of how to count results during a one-game absence.
Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has been assigned to run practices. It's not clear whether there will be an official acting coach on Saturday.
When asked about how Saban's absence would affect his coaching record, NCAA spokesman Dave Worlock explained as follows to CBS Sports:
"Typically when a coach misses a game, or a limited number of games, due to a temporary illness, the wins and losses that take place during his/her absence, count on the head coach's won-lost record. But if an institution knows its coach is going to miss some time to an illness or other unexpected circumstance, they can inform us in advance if they want the win or loss to go to an interim coach.
"Generally speaking, a one-game absence (and hopefully that is the worst-case scenario) with the coach able to still communicate with his staff and players, would result in the head coach having wins and losses count against his/her won-lost record. Again though, it's up to the school to decide."
Alabama's determination matters on several levels. The Georgia game will be the first Saban has missed while an active head coach. He remains the winningest coach by percentage in program history (160-23, .874).
Of course, there is also the issue of Saban's record against his former assistants, 21-0. If Georgia's Kirby Smart wins Saturday, the victory would count on Saban's record and break that streak.
Florida State decided internally last month that the loss to Miami would count on first-year coach Mike Norvell's record. Norvell tested positive for COVID-19 during the bye week preceding the Miami game on Sept. 26, a 52-10 loss. It was the only game Norvell missed.
FSU never named an interim coach for that game. However, deputy head coach Chris Thompson was the designated head coach that day against Miami.