While Ohio State weighs it's uncertain immediate future, they seem to be getting some backing from an unexpected place.
In light of cancelling this weekend's rivalry game because of a CoVID-19 outbreak within their team, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel and head football coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media briefly on Tuesday afternoon. On two separate occasions, Manuel went to bat for Ohio State in their College Football Playoff aspirations.
"I don't believe that anybody - Ohio State or any other team - should be punished by these decisions. ...These are unprecedented times. We need to be flexible ... I think Ohio State is one of the top four teams in the country.
"I'm going to work with my colleagues in the Big Ten and Commissioner Warren to help make the best decision for us (as a conference) moving forward."
Manuel also said he's open to revisiting the Big Ten's six-game minimum for championship eligibility and indicates Ohio State shouldn't be penalized for cancellations. "I don't think we should just hunker down and say 'We said six, so that's going to be it.'"
Michigan also acknowledged that, like Ohio State two weeks ago and like every other Big Ten team that has cancelled a game so far this season, they are not in the "red/red zone", outlined in the Big Ten conference CoVID protocols. In other words, they chose to cancel Saturday's game because they didn't feel it was in their best interests to play with spiking cases, but they were not mandated by the league to shut down the program because of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh isn't ruling out Michigan being able to play on Dec. 19. "There’s the real possibility that we could play again before this season is over," he said.
When Manual was asked about the potential of playing Ohio State that weekend (which would be counter-intuitive to the Big Ten's divisional cross-over structure), Manuel said, "We will make any adjustments from my standpoint that we need to make. So, if that's a possibility, we are flexible to make adjustments on our calendar and if we could play Ohio State the week of the 19th, from my perspective, that would be great.
"We will play whoever is going to be scheduled for us. And I just want to make it clear, I think Ohio State is one of the top four teams in this country, deserves the opportunity to be in the conversation about their success this season. It would be a great representative to the (CFP) if they're chosen. That's where I stand."
I think it's very unlikely that an Ohio State-Michigan game would be played on Dec. 19, but it's nice to know that the Wolverines are open to that.
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