Michigan decided to cancel “The Game” against Ohio State, amidst rising COVID-19 cases within Jim Harbaugh’s program. The Wolverines reportedly would’ve had 45 inactive players due to positive tests, contact tracing and injuries.
Since the rivalry game is off, everyone immediately turned their attention to what the decision would mean for Ohio State. The Buckeyes have only played five games which, with the current conference protocols, would leave them short of the six-game requirement to make the Big Ten Championship. Currently, Ohio State sits first in the East division at 5-0 and has a win over second-place Indiana. The Hoosiers would make the title game if the Buckeyes didn’t play.
Most fans think that that the conference needs to alter the restrictions to let in the obviously superior Ohio State football team. It seems like even Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel would agree.
On Tuesday, reporters asked the Wolverines AD what his thoughts were on on the Big Ten leaving the Buckeyes out of the conference championship game.
“I don’t believe that anybody — Ohio State or any other team — should be punished by the decisions. …These are unprecedented times. We need to be flexible,” Manuel said, courtesy of Big Ten reporter Kyle Rowland.
Warde Manuel: “I don’t believe that anybody — Ohio State or any other team — should be punished by the decisions. …These are unprecedented times. We need to be flexible.”
Manuel said he and the Big Ten would be open to making adjustments.
— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) December 8, 2020
The Michigan AD also said that he thought Ohio State is one of the “top four teams in the country.”
Manuel “I think Ohio State is one of the top 4 teams in the country”
— angelique (@chengelis) December 8, 2020
Even though the rivalry runs deep for both programs, Manuel put his pride aside to acknowledge the reality of football in 2020. He clearly believes that adjustments should be made in a chaotic year. His voice should be an interesting one to hear from when the conference athletic director’s meet later this week.
As of now, the conference hasn’t made an announcement regarding Ohio State’s status. Hopefully, the Big Ten will also let the Buckeyes explore another option to play this weekend. Another win against a quality opponent would go a long way in helping Ohio State make the College Football Playoff.
For Michigan, news of the cancelation means the Wolverines season is over. Manuel and the powers that be must determine if keeping Harbaugh is the right move going into 2021.
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