The Wolverine

August 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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16 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2020 BY JOHN BORTON H opes for a football season remained high when offi- cials across the nation can- celed spring practices. The reason? It was only March, and September stood a long way off. It's not March anymore, and the college football world sees itself marching toward the heretofore un- imagined madness of an autumn without the sport. The hammer hadn't dropped by July 27, but it's coming, either affirming the start or sounding the end. The Big Ten already announced its teams will play only conference games, 10 of them. But some of its squads have already suspended workouts due to COVID-19 out- breaks and concerns. There's been buzz about the sea- son getting delayed some three to four weeks from an anticipated La- bor Day weekend opening. Others believe that to be optimistic. Either college football gets pushed back to next spring, or dropped altogether for a year, they insist. "Everybody is putting together a similar plan, if we had to push things to the spring," former Michigan All- American Jon Jansen noted July 23 on his "In The Trenches" podcast. "There's some momentum heading that way, depending on what the numbers look like in the next couple of weeks. We're going to know real soon as to what we're looking at in the fall." Those aren't the only plans put in place, by any means. Michigan play- ers still cling to the hope of going forward with the season. That means staying safe in workouts and meet- ings, responsibly handling their free time, and listening intently as oth- ers plot out the immediate future, if government officials, the NCAA and the leagues themselves see a way forward. "What happens if we get a couple of coaches sick, and they're not able to be on the field, they're not able to be in the booth or involved in prac- tice?" Jansen mused. "How do we group the players together? Who knows what and how can they coach these players up the best? "You've got to have those plans in place. Just like players may test posi- tive and have to sit out for a game or two, coaches could do the same thing. … If it were to happen to Jim Harbaugh, who steps in? Those are all plans that have to be in place." Harbaugh himself has stressed over and over he wants to see the season play out this fall, if it can be done safely. He embraces the challenge of helping make it happen. "It's a different conversation if there are no students on campus," Har- baugh noted in a July 8 Zoom meet- ing with reporters. "If students are on campus, then my personal belief, as a parent of a daughter who will also be on campus, is that this is a safe place. As safe as possible would be within our university, even in our athletic buildings and complexes. With the safety precautions that have been put into place, medical oversight for the students, student-athletes, students in general, I would feel good. "I would want the responsibility of keeping our players safe and also educating them. I would not want to come off that guard tower of edu- cating and keeping our players safe. Now, if it comes to a point in time where you say that we can't play — it's obvious, it's clear — then every- body would be reasonable and know that that was the right thing to do." It remained unclear in late July, be- cause of the virus affecting different parts of the nation to different de- KICKOFF KICKOFF OR OR Still No Firm Answers On Football's Fate

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