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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh publicly joined the push for college football to go on in the fall as the Big Ten could be moving to not play at all in 2020.
Harbaugh issued a statement Monday outlining Michigan’s coronavirus protocols and the lack of cases on his football team. Harbaugh’s statement came as leaders in the Big Ten have been meeting to discuss the feasibility of playing football this year. The conference could cancel the season this week.
“We have developed a great prototype for how we can make this work and provide the opportunity for players to play,” Harbaugh said, noting in his statement that the program hasn’t had any positive test results among its past 353. “If you are transparent and follow the rules, this is how it can be done.
“I am forever proud of our players, parents, coaches and staff for being leaders and role models in our sport, at our institution and in society. We will continue to follow all health and safety guidelines, teach, train, and coach those young men and their families that have put their trust in us while advocating for a football season in the fall.”
Harbaugh ended the statement with #WeWantToPlay, a hashtag that was made prominent late Sunday night by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and other players pushing for enhanced safety procedures so that college football can be played in 2020.
Harbaugh’s statement came before President Donald Trump also publicly pushed for college football to happen in the fall.
The decision to play football is, of course, not up to players and coaches. It’s being made by university presidents and other school leaders. And it’s a decision that has a lot of other considerations outside of football. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey expressed that in two tweets Monday afternoon hinting that a decision about the football season was not imminent from his conference.
Schools are aware that its players are classified as students and treating them differently — like putting them into a bubble similar to what the NBA and NHL are doing — would show that college athletes are more like employees than students. And while football programs across the country have implemented practices and protocols at their facilities to stop the spread of the coronavirus, those protocols aren’t going to be in place (or followed) around every part of a college campus or college towns. And definitely not at parties.
That’s why conferences like the SEC and Pac-12 pushed back the start of their seasons to late September. The Big Ten — if it plays football, of course — is set to start the season on Labor Day weekend but with more off weekends built in because of its conference-only schedule.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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