Jim Harbaugh: All options being looked at for college football season

©Detroit Free Press

Jim Harbaugh’s thoughts on the possibility of a college football season this fall appear to remain unchanged.

During the coronavirus outbreak, the Michigan football coach has consistently deferred to the advice and thoughts of health care professionals.

During a Tuesday morning appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show,” Harbaugh once again said that while he doesn’t know for sure whether there will be college football this fall, others continue to search for the answer.

“Well, as far as whether we’re going to be able to play again, that’s the big question — can we play again?” Harbaugh said. “I think right now we don’t know because it’s dictated. I think the simplest answer is, if the governors allow our gyms to open up, then we should be able to get our guys back in the weight room and training, and then a whole set of a lot of smart people working on, can we eventually play the games? I don’t think anyone knows that for sure right now.”

As it stands, Michigan remains in a stay-at-home order. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently extended her stay-at-home order through May 28, in hopes of lessening the spread of COVID-19. Michigan has been one of the states hit hardest by the virus, although recent statistics suggest that case numbers and deaths are trending downwards.

Other states across the country remain in shutdown, while some have begun to re-open. In April, a group of governors across seven states — Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin — announced that they would work in conjunction to re-open their economies once the pandemic began to die down. Nine of the 14 Big Ten institutions reside in those seven states.

Still, as of now, Michigan’s campus and gyms remain unopened. Other athletic directors and officials, such as athletic director Warde Manuel and President Mark Schlissel, have suggested that football will not be played if the campus does not reopen to the general student body this fall.

Tuesday, Harbaugh was asked about the possibility of some schools being ready to play football in the fall and others being unable or unwilling to start in the same time frame. Harbaugh appears to be in favor of a college football season even if some programs would be unable to participate.

“Yeah, I could see that,” he said. “I’d be more for that than saying if all can’t play, then nobody plays. I’ve never been a big fan of that kind of thinking.”

For now, he remains busy, conducting as much business as possible virtually and over the phone. Harbaugh says his daily life consists of “a lot of phone calls” and “a lot of Zoom meetings,” as he communicates with his coaching staff, players and recruits (the Wolverines have added 11 commitments to their 2021 class since the outbreak began in mid-March). He has also been in contact with other head coaches across the Big Ten and continues to keep his mind open to different possibilities regarding a potential season.

“A lot of different scenarios being planned for, like all options being looked at,” Harbaugh said. “People are looking into that. The length of the schedules, is it just the conference schedule? Do we play the games and a certain percentages of the fans can come, or no fans can be in the stadium? All those things are being talked about and looked at.”

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©2020 Detroit Free Press