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Key Alabama assistants out with Covid-19; should be ready for bowl game

Alabama announced Wednesday that offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien and offensive line coach Doug Marrone have tested positive for COVID-19.
Credit: AP NEWS

TUSCALOOSA, Ala — Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien and offensive line coach Doug Marrone have tested positive for COVID-19, the school announced Wednesday.

Both are expected to return in time for the start of the College Football Playoff on Dec. 31, when No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Cincinnati in the CFP Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl.

A statement from coach Nick Saban and head athletic trainer Jeff Allen said of O'Brien and Marrone, "They have very mild symptoms and are home isolating while following all appropriate guidelines."

On Monday, Saban told reporters that the team had reinstituted COVID protocols from a year ago, asking team members to wear masks in the facility and social distance during meetings.

Saban said that more than 90% of players have been vaccinated and received a booster shot.

“They’ve really kind of bought into trying to do everything they can to stay safe,” Saban said of his players, “but there’s no guarantees, so we wanna use every protocol we can to help them stay safe.”

"Am I concerned?" Saban said of the recent rise in cases and the postponement of NFL games. "I'm always concerned when there's an issue out there, and we want to do the best we can to help our players be concerned about the issue and respect it so they have the best opportunity to stay safe."

Credit: AP
Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, left, calls out instructions as the team warms up before an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

O'Brien and Marrone, both former NFL head coaches, are in their first seasons on the Crimson Tide staff.

O'Brien has overseen an offense that ranks first in the SEC in points per game (42.23).

He also helped first-time starting quarterback Bryce Young win the Heisman Trophy.