Alabama’s Saban: There were discussions about postponing national championship game

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts to the official against the Clemson Tigersin the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Levi's Stadium on January 7, 2019 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 07: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts to the official against the Clemson Tigersin the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Levi's Stadium on January 7, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Credit: Ezra Shaw

Credit: Ezra Shaw

Changing date would present issues, but Saban said player safety comes first

Alabama coach Nick Saban confirmed Thursday there were discussions about postponing the national championship game because of COVID-19 issues, though as of Thursday afternoon, the game was still scheduled to take place Monday night in Miami, Fla.

Saban also said there would be “difficult management issues” for his program if they had to change the date of the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

“Our school is starting this next week,” Saban said. “We would have had 35,000 students coming back here. We’ve played 12 games this year, so we have a lot of guys that have ground through the season, a lot of guys that are nicked up a little bit. Another week of practice would have been much more difficult for those guys probably. January 18th is a day people got to decide whether they’re going to go out for the draft or not. So just the whole timing of the whole thing would have been a tough management. But I would have put player safety on either team as the most important factor in this decision.”

There were multiple reports Tuesday of Ohio State dealing with positive COVID-19 tests. At the same time, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told reporters the team was still practicing and planning to play Monday.

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Injury update: Saban provided another update on the status of wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury in October.

“He has been able to practice some,” Saban said. “His status for the game is still relatively up in the air, and it will probably be a game-day decision.”

High school connection: Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade are both from Jacksonville, Fla., and played in 7-on-7 games together in high school.

“He comes from a great family, and he’s a technician,” Jones said, “and he’s kind of a perfectionist in his own way. He celebrates when he makes great plays, but he’s more of a quiet guy and just kind of does his job. In high school, he was really humble for being a top recruit, and at the time I wasn’t very highly recruited and he always had my back in interviews or anything like that. I really appreciate him and his family, and I’m just really happy for how he’s played throughout his career at Ohio State.”

Wade called it a blessing to be able to play against Jones.

“I’ve (known) Mac for a long time,” Wade said. “Money Making Mac, that’s what we called him. He is a confident guy. He’s a hard worker and great quarterback, and I’m really looking forward to playing against him this week.”

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