Alabama Coach Nick Saban acknowledged there were discussions about possibly moving the national championship game back because of COVID-19 issues.

The Associated Press and others have reported that Ohio State had spoken with CFP officials about possible player availability problems for the Buckeyes that could force the game to be delayed from Monday night in suburban Miami.

Saban said, “There were discussions as to whether it was fair to continue or to move the game back and all that.” But he noted that Alabama students return next week, creating “difficult management issues if we would have moved the game back.”

Asked Wednesday if the game was still on track to be played Monday night, Ohio State Coach Ryan Day said: “Correct.”

“We’ll have plenty of players” available, Day said, though he didn’t disclose a specific number.

Saban also cited the Jan. 18 deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft as a factor against pushing the title game back.

“So just the whole timing of the whole thing would have been a tough management,” Saban said. “But I would have put player safety on either team as the most important factor in this decision.”

• Don’t look for either coach to offer specifics on the status of their injured stars, Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields or Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.

Fields was banged up in the semifinal game against Clemson, and Day has indicated he would play without specifying the nature of the injury.

“No real update. Don’t really give out injury updates,” Day said.

Fields didn’t either, but did say Thursday: “I’ll be good by Monday night.”

At Alabama, Waddle has been practicing this week trying to return from an ankle injury that required surgery.

Saban was noncommittal about Waddle, noting that some players returning from injuries become too sore to practice the next day and others get stronger.

“So that’s a work in progress right now, so you really can’t predict where he might be,” he said.

TENNESSEE-CHATTANOOGA: An offensive line coach was fired after posting what school officials described as “appalling” and “unacceptable” comments about Stacey Abrams, the voting rights activist from Georgia.

Chris Malone posted the tweet Tuesday, the day Georgia voters went to the polls and elected Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to the Senate, and it gained attention Wednesday, prompting him to delete his account.

“Congratulations to the state GA and Fat Albert @staceyabrams because you have truly shown America the true works of cheating in an election, again!!!” he wrote in the tweet. “Enjoy the buffet Big Girl!! You earned it!!! Hope the money is good, still not governor!”

The university’s athletic director and football coach confirmed that Malone had been fired from his position at the Division I Football Championship Subdivision school.

“Last night, a totally inappropriate social media post by a member of our football staff was brought to my attention,” Athletic Director Mark Wharton said Thursday in a statement. “The entire post was appalling. The sentiments in that post do not represent the values of our football program, our athletics department or our university. With that said, effectively immediately, that individual is no longer a part of the program.”

Coach Rusty Wright called the post “unacceptable.”

“Our football program has a clear set of standards. Those standard include respecting others,” he said in a statement.

Malone was in the second season of his second go-round as the Mocs’ offensive line coach. He previously coached at the school in 2014 and 2015 and also coached at Massachusetts, Virginia Military Institute, James Madison, Virginia State and Old Dominion. He was a four-year starter for Virginia Tech at offensive guard 1991-95.

In 2018, Abrams was the first Black woman in U.S. history to win a major party’s gubernatorial nomination and she received more votes than any Democrat who has run statewide in Georgia. She lost by just over 50,000 votes to Brian Kemp, then Georgia’s secretary of state.

AUBURN: Bryan Harsin has hired former Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo as offensive coordinator.

The new Tigers’ coach, who was at Boise State, announced the hire of his former Mountain West Conference counterpart on Thursday. Bobo was South Carolina’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach last season after five years at Colorado State. He also played quarterback for Georgia, where he was offensive coordinator from 2007-14.

Bobo led Colorado State to bowl games in each of his first three seasons. His 2017 team set the school record for most total yards per game.

Bobo went 28-35 overall and 20-20 in the Mountain West.

AWARDS: Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith of Alabama added to his collection of postseason honors, receiving the Maxwell Award as the college football player of the year.

Smith also won the Walter Camp player of the year and the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver.

Four other Alabama players received awards during the College Football Awards Show.

Smith won the Maxwell over his teammate, quarterback Mac Jones, and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Smith became the first wide receiver to win the Maxwell since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991. Howard also won the Heisman that year.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Smith leads the nation with 105 receptions and 20 touchdown catches. The Associated Press player of the year has 1,641 yards receiving, with an FBS-high 844 coming after the catch.

Other awards handed out:

• Alabama’s Jones won the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback of the Year Award. He threw 36 touchdown passes and four interceptions, completing 77% of his attempts.

•  Alabama’s Najee Harris, who scored an FBS-leading 24 rushing touchdowns, won the Doak Walker Award as the top running back.

•  Offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood became the sixth Alabama player to win the Outland Trophy as the outstanding interior lineman.

•  Landon Dickerson of Alabama won the Rimington Trophy as the top center.

•  Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins, the only player in the country with four interceptions and four sacks, won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the top defensive player.

•  Free safety Trevon Moehrig, who had two interceptions and broke up nine passes, became the first TCU player to win the Jim Thorpe Award as the top defensive back.

•  Florida’s Kyle Pitts, who led all tight ends with 12 TD catches, won the John Mackey Award as the top player at his position.

•  Miami’s Jose Borregales won the Lou Groza Award as the top kicker. A transfer from Florida International, he was 20 of 22 on field goals.

•  Pressley Harvin III of Georgia Tech won the Ray Guy Award as the top punter after averaging an ACC-record 48 yards per punt.

•  Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell was named Home Depot coach of the year. The Chanticleers won 11 games and were ranked as high as No. 9 in the AP Top 25.

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