The 2020 college football season has been filled with uncertainty and speculation. The speculation probably won’t stop anytime soon, either. Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN, who played for the Ohio State Buckeyes during his college football career, recently made some comments about the Michigan Wolverines that was purely speculative. His comments ended up really bothering Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, too.
Ohio State has had games canceled due to COVID-19
COVID-19 already forced the Big Ten to start its season much later than usual. Many of their teams are playing some pretty short seasons, too, as multiple schools have had to cancel games due to COVID-19.
Ohio State, the conference’s best team and the No. 4 ranked team in the country, had a game against Maryland canceled on Nov. 14. They also had a game against Illinois on Nov. 28 get canceled too. Now, with only four games under their belt, the Buckeyes have two games left against Michigan State and their rival, the Michigan Wolverines.
It is pretty crucial that the Buckeyes play their next two games. The Big Ten has a requirement that teams must play six games to qualify for the Big Ten Championship Game. The Buckeyes would still be eligible for the College Football Playoff without playing in the Big Ten Championship, but it would be much more challenging to make the cut.
This led to Kirk Herbstreit’s comments.
Kirk Herbstreit wondered if Michigan would cancel the Ohio State game
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Michigan is having an awful season, as the Wolverines are 2-4 this year. This means that they have nothing to play for, so cancelling any games wouldn’t hurt them in the grand scheme of things.
On Dec. 1 while on ESPN, Kirk Herbstreit then speculated whether Michigan — who had its Dec. 5 game canceled — would cancel its game against Ohio State and use COVID-19 as the reasoning. The decision would also ultimately keep their rival from making the Big Ten Championship Game.
“I still think Michigan waves the white flag, potentially avoids playing Ohio State next week, and then they’ll potentially get a game on the 19th,” Herbstreit said, according to the New York Post. “Michigan could opt out, basically, of that game, and keep Ohio State out of six games to qualify for the Big Ten Championship.”
Herbstreit then later apologized for his comments via Twitter.
“It was completely unfair to the University of Michigan, to Jim Harbaugh, to his players and coaches, and I just wanted to apologize,” Herbstreit said, according to the New York Post. “I think we all go through some ups and downs, many downs for a lot of people during this COVID crisis that we’re all in. For me, in college football, I really struggle with where we are. Players opting out, teams canceling games, it just seems like it’s a downward spiral.”
He continued: “I’ve got a 25-year track record of not being a guy that pokes at Michigan even though I’m an Ohio State guy. I take a lot of pride in being fair, and I was not fair tonight and I apologize.”
Michigan AD Warde Manuel sent a stern message about Kirk Herbstreit
Following Herbstreit’s comments, Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel then issued a response. He was not happy, either.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Manuel said, according to the New York Post. “I have to pause because my words, the anger … I was infuriated by the insinuation that Michigan would do anything other than play a football game.”
Manuel did not hold back.
“To insinuate that, to say something other than that, is a statement by a fool,” he said, according to the New York Post.
“I can’t tell you how embarrassed I am for the Big Ten Conference to have one of their representatives who played this game say that about any team in this conference,” Manuel said, according to the New York Post. “And to say it about college football and these student-athletes around this country who are trying to play games during a pandemic is ridiculous and sad.”
This college football season has been filled with uncertainty. Herbstreit’s comments probably won’t be the last speculative claims made this season.