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COVID-19 already impacting Alabama in the Cotton Bowl

Pat Duggins

Alabama is in practice for this Friday’s Cotton Bowl playoff against Cincinnati. COVID-19 is already complicating things for all four teams contending for the college football title.

The Crimson Tide may be without its offensive coordinator when the team plays Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl. Bill O’Brien tested positive for COVID-19. The Crimson Tide is already requiring the players to wear masks and to social distance in Dallas.

Head coach Nick Saban he doesn’t want to lock the team in their hotel rooms, but they need to be careful.

“It could be a detriment to their brand, or to their ability to get ready and perform in the game,” said Saban. “We’re going to be there for a while. I want them to enjoy themselves, but I want them to be smart about how they take care of themselves. And that’s all part of this being a business trip.”

Two teams playing in unrelated bowl games recently dropped out because of COVID-19. Hawaii won’t participate in the Hawaii Bowl due to the virus, and Texas A & M Coach Saban says how his players respond to the challenges of the coronavirus while they’re on the road in Dallas is largely up to them.

“Their willingness to do that is, pretty much says what they’re committed to and how important is to them because it becomes a priority for them to play well in the game. But, I usually let the players decide what the curfews are and that type of thing,” he said.

The winner of Friday’s Cotton Bowl will face either Michigan or Georgia for the championship. Organizers say if a team in the playoffs drops out due to COVID-19, their opponent will move on to the title game.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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