Hear From Jim Harbaugh, Warde Manuel, Carlo Kemp On Big Ten Football's Return

Eric Rutter

Now that the Big Ten has announced that the 2020 fall football season will take place in with an 8+1 schedule format, the Wolverines are wasting no time in getting back to business. Jim Harbaugh has kept the team focused during the past few weeks without knowing how this situation would unfold, but once news broke earlier today, the U-M coach shared his reaction to the Big Ten's decision.

Harbaugh has long been an advocate for his players and released a well-written letter last month that described exactly why he thinks Michigan should be allowed to play football this fall. Harbaugh has experienced the football team's vigilance in avoiding COVID-19 up close and in person, and that team-wide commitment to staying safe eventually paid off. 

Not long after, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel also shared his thoughts on the entire process:

"I'm happy that President Schlissel and the Big Ten Conference presidents voted to allow members to move forward with a return to football. The health and safety of our student-athletes have always been primary in the discussion and the decisions. I want to thank commissioner Warren, the medical professionals of the Big Ten, and my fellow athletic directors for all the work that had been done over the past few months to arrive at this point.

"Coach Harbaugh and our great student-athletes have been great throughout this process. They have remained diligent in following the protocols and preparing to have this opportunity to play this season.

"I also want to thank our coaches and staff, our student-athletes, their families and our fans for their collective patience. I look forward to watching our teams compete this fall and beyond."

With both Harbaugh and Warren expressing their gratitude to the Big Ten administrators for making this decision, perhaps no member of the Michigan football community is more thankful than Carlo Kemp. As a fifth-year senior and a team captain in 2020, Kemp had to not only keep himself motivated in case the season was reinstated but also worked to inspire that same level of drive in his teammates. Needless to say, that train of thought caught on.

"Guys were coming to the facility to train, workout, do everything they had to do here, then we'd just go home," Kemp explained on MGoBlue Podcasts with Jon Jansen. "It was maybe a bummer that a lot of times that you see some of your best friends is only when you're working out, only when you're doing field work, but it's what got us to this point."

During his interview with Jansen, Kemp touched on how Michigan is only going to play nine games this season compared to a normal full slate. However, that is a proposition that Kemp wasted little time in accepting.

"The number of games isn't anything for me, it's just being able to play," Kemp said. "If it were eight games, nine games... I'll take it. I'm so happy. I'm so thankful that commissioner listened and was able to find a way to get us back in a safe way to play and thankful for President Schlissel to change his vote and let us play. I'm very thankful for this opportunity that those guys are giving us right now."

Though the pandemic has been trying on everybody, Big Ten athletes have undergone a particularly tumultuous summer by returning to campus without any guarantee that they'd have the opportunity to take the field this fall. According to Kemp, that uncertainty only pushed the Michigan team to do the best they can to act as role models during this time.

"We've done really well with having as minimal guys test positive, and that's a real testament to our guys and how serious and how disciplined we are to, not just keeping ourselves safe but what we're really trying to do is keep everybody safe," Kemp said. "Keep everybody else on the team safe and do our part here in the community. That just carried us through since we've gotten back, and I think now with the season being confirmed and playing, it's only going to heighten people's attentiveness to getting back to and continuing and staying on the path that we have been."

After hearing from those three Michigan football community members, it is clear that the Wolverines are energized and excited by their opportunity to take the field this fall. After fighting through a indecision and a lack of communication from the Big Ten, Michigan and 13 other schools have come out the other side and will be playing football in a little over one month's time.

Do you think the Big Ten should call this situation a success? Do both parties ultimately win in this scenario where the players can play but health protocols are ramped up as well? Let us know!

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Comments (2)
No. 1-2
UMfb
UMfb

I'm still restless. I don't like to say this, but 'there is so much that can happen in the next 5 weeks'. We've been given a football schedule before and then abruptly had it taken away with no communication. I really hope all players and coaches remain healthy for the next 5 weeks. I think efforts to keep players healthy will increase.

CJK5H
CJK5H

The Big Ten did everything perfect. They waited for sufficient data on player safety and acted on it. There is an interesting question coming up after the season, though, and it may devastate the Group of Five:

"After the way 2020 worked out, are non-conference games with patsies really necessary?" Or: "Why do we have to have 12 games every year when there is so much risk of injury and wear and tear on players?"


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