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Jumbo Package: Saban expresses frustration with quarantines, and will Alabama play LSU this year?

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NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Alabama The Tuscaloosa News-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. Alabama doesn’t have a game tomorrow, and that sucks. Nick Saban spoke on his radio show yesterday about some of the frustration with contact tracing.

So, again, we are talking about not only quarantining players who are testing negative, we are quarantining them for the maximum possible incubation period.

Then, of course, you have this.

Imagine that Mills had enough close contacts to cancel the whole game, only to find out that his was a false positive. From a coach’s perspective, imagine having to tell a kid who isn’t sick that he can’t play because he tested positive. Now imagine having to tell other kids that they can’t play because they were around this person who isn’t sick, even though all of their tests are negative.

This is lunacy, folks. There is no reason that players can’t “test out” the way that Saban did, and the way that they can in the NFL. Take the Baker Mayfield case from just this week:

The Cleveland Browns officially activated the quarterback from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday in advance of practice.

Mayfield was placed on the COVID list on Saturday after he came in close contact with a Browns staffer who tested positive.

The return Wednesday indicates Mayfield tested negative through his brief self-isolation.

Even as a close contact, Mayfield was able to practice in just a few days.

So, will Alabama actually play LSU this year?

Taking the broad view first, there are probably some factors that leave open the possibility that the game will be played. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey indicated on the league’s teleconference Wednesday that his first priority as a “finish line” is the Dec. 19 SEC Championship Game. He also indicated, in response to a hypothetical question, that games impacting the division races that settle the participants in that game could ultimately take priority over games without divisional significance. That means Alabama-LSU could have added significance since Alabama leads the West, although part of the dilemma is that LSU also needs to play its postponed game with Florida, the prohibitive favorite in the East.

Before we get into these comments, take a look at this from the recently released SEC tiebreakers for 2020:

For any team to be eligible for the SEC Football Championship Game, or to be considered in a tiebreaker, such team must have played within one (1) total conference game of the average number of conference games played by all conference teams (if .5 or above round up, if below .5 round down) during the 2020 season. For example, if the average number of conference games played in the 2020 season is 9.25 (value of nine (9) when rounded down), a team would be eligible to participate in the SEC Football Championship Game, or be considered in a tiebreaker, if that team played eight (8) or more conference games.

• Should a team be ready and able to play a game, but the opposing team not be able to play, then the team that was ready to play may add one game to its total number of games played for the purpose of meeting the minimum number of games to be played (for clarity, the addition of a game to the total number of games played will not count in the final standings but will only be included to meet the minimum number of games if that team has competed in fewer than the required minimum number of games needed to be eligible for the SEC Football Championship game or to be considered in a tiebreaker). Under this circumstance, a team shall only have a single opportunity to add one game for the purpose of meeting the minimum number of games to be played, regardless of the number of times the team was unable to compete in a game during the regular season.

Based on this, Alabama will get to add the LSU game as a win since the Tigers backed out, which would send even a 8-1 Tide to Atlanta over 9-1 Texas A&M based on the head-to-head tiebreaker. This means that the LSU game is highly unlikely to impact the division race. As long as the Tide don’t lose more than one game, they have no incentive whatsoever to move heaven and earth to go to Baton Rouge. Of course, the Aggies saw their game against Tennessee postponed as well so that may be a moot point.

LSU likely wants (needs?) the game to happen.

Not playing the game means LSU’s athletic department will forgo up to $6 million in sales revenue from tickets, concessions, retail, parking, corporate advertising and other cash streams, said Verge Ausberry, LSU’s executive deputy director of athletics and executive director external relations.

Because LSU’s 102,321-seat stadium is limited by government authorities this season to 25 percent capacity, the athletic department already expected the game to generate a couple million dollars less than a normal year.

LSU has already forecast an $80 million athletic department budget shortfall this season, and losing the Alabama home game would drive that total even higher. Its overall budget is about $157 million. Ausberry confirmed that some short-term borrowing will be done to cover expenses.

Guess we’ll see. Saban has them preparing for anything.

“We can’t control what other people do. We can’t control the schedule. We can control what we do. So whoever we play, whenever we play, we’re gonna be ready to go,” Saban said. “We’re trying to keep the players in a rhythm and a routine that won’t hurt us too bad that we didn’t play for a couple weeks. We’re looking forward to having the opportunity to play and hope that opportunity will come this week coming up.”

Saban said Alabama players were “really looking forward” to playing LSU this week and are “all disappointed” that game in Baton Rouge will not happen as scheduled because of COVID-19 infections and contact tracing at LSU.

Last, Derrick Henry got himself another 100 yard game last night, and is still doing King Henry things along the way.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.