OC Bill O'Brien joins Alabama football after COVID isolation. How he coached from home ahead of Cotton Bowl

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  • Doug Marrone
    Football coach

DALLAS — Alabama football offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien arrived in Texas on Tuesday after he had been isolating at home. The team arrived Sunday.

Offensive line coach Doug Marrone has also rejoined the team, per a UA spokesperson

UA announced last Wednesday that both O'Brien and Marrone had tested positive for COVID-19.

O'Brien, addressing reporters Tuesday for the first time since preseason practices, said he feels good.

"Glad to see the SEC kind of adjust those rules a little bit so I was able to get out here today and be able to be here in person," O'Brien said. "I feel good. I'm ready to go."

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened the time recommended for isolation to five days for those with COVID-19, if asymptomatic. The recommended time frame for isolation had previously been 10 days.

In a statement shared with The Tuscaloosa News, an SEC spokesperson said the conference's medical task force was preparing updated policies prior to the CDC announcement.

"We have followed CDC guidance throughout the pandemic and SEC policies have been adjusted consistent with the CDC," the statement read. "The SEC medical task force continues to work with the conference office and membership to refine policies to support healthy competition."

A Cotton Bowl spokesperson said the approach has been to adhere to the safety protocols as dictated by the College Football Playoff and as outlined by each of the participating teams.

Before being cleared to join Tuesday, O'Brien participated in every practice virtually. He said it wasn't weird for him because he had that experience while coaching in the NFL in 2020. O'Brien previously worked as the Houston Texans' coach and general manager.

"Coach (Nick) Saban made everything normal," O'Brien said. "It’s like I was actually there."

He gave credit to the video department as well as football analysts Alex Mortensen and Will Lawing and Holmon Wiggins, assistant head coach of offense/receivers, for helping make the process easier. He thanked Joe Pendry, a former Alabama assistant who helped coach the offensive line while Marrone also isolated at home after a positive COVID-19 test.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young said O'Brien was still talking to players in meetings and helping where he could, but that there wasn't the instant feedback O'Brien could give when coaching in person.

"That was really rough not having him in person for an extended period of time," Young said. "Not having him on the field for a few practices, that was tough. Someone like (O'Brien), who obviously is such a great mind and in the quarterback room, gives us so much intel and knowledge and out on the field, the entire offense. Really leading that from a coaching standpoint."

Young also thanked Mortensen as well as offensive graduate assistant Montana Murphy for how they stepped up in helping in the quarterback room in O'Brien's absence.

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This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Bill O'Brien joins Alabama football at Cotton Bowl after COVID isolation

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