Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's days begin early thanks to the youngest of his children, and they are full with family activities and work.
Harbaugh, appearing Tuesday morning on “The Dan Patrick Show,” said he spends a lot of time on the phone and in Zoom meetings and speaks often with Big Ten football coaches. Their discussions focus on the uncertainty of the upcoming college football season.
“As far as whether we’re going to be able to play again, that’s the big question on everybody’s mind — can we play again?” Harbaugh said on the show, referring to his conversations with coaches.
“Right now we don’t know because it’s dictated by...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 (there’s) a whole set of a lot of smart people working on, can we eventually play the games? I don’t think anybody knows that for sure right now.”
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the stay-at-home order to May 28 as the state gradually reopens some businesses. Meanwhile, the Big Ten extended its moratorium on organized physical activity for its schools until June 1.
Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey said recently each conference made its own decisions when to stop its sports in March, and it’s not different going forward.
“If that’s the template, there is room for different conferences to make different decisions,” Sankey said. “If there’s a couple programs that aren’t able, does that stop everyone? I’m not sure it does, but the ability of us to stay connected will remain important.”
Harbaugh was asked about that possibility, that some schools may be ready to play while others may be delayed and not prepared, and should that affect the season.
“I could see that,” Harbaugh said of that potential. “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.”
Harbaugh said there are a number of topics being considered, including how teams will travel to events and maintain the health and well-being of the players.
“It’s going to be driven a lot by the health care professionals,” he said. “A lot of different scenarios (are) being planned for, all options being looked at. People are looking into that. The length of the schedules. Is it just the conference schedule? Do you play the games and a certain percentage of the fans can come? Or no fans can be in the stadium? All those things are being talked about and looked at.”
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel on Tuesday sent a letter to the Michigan community with a brief update on where things stand.
“There are more questions than answers and we remain committed to the healthy and safety of everyone associated with this great institution,” he wrote. “We will continue to follow the advice and directives of medical experts and our health and government officials.
"We expect to get updates as the pandemic evolves and, echoing the words of (university) President (Mark) Schlissel, will hopefully participate in the gradual reopening of campus for a public health-informed fall semester. These are early signs of positive momentum for us all. I urge people to do their part in flattening the curve. Stay home whenever possible, and avoid large crowds at this time."
Manuel recently participated in Edyoucore’s “Get Lit” live chat with hosts Drew Hawkins and Bart Scott and told them it would be “unfathomable” to have Michigan athletes playing sports if their fellow students are not also on campus taking classes.
“We need our campuses to be open first and foremost before we can bring our student-athletes to campus in order to just play a game,” Manuel said. “I’ve said all along, these are not professionals. I don’t treat them way. They may drive ticket sales and people interested coming and sitting in our stadium. We have the largest stadium in the country, proud of that.
“If it’s about the safety of our student-athletes versus filling that stadium, I’d rather it sit empty until we’re in the position to make sure our student-athletes, our coaches and our fans are safe, and their health is primary. We’ll figure it out just like everybody is doing on the financial side, but we can’t play games with peoples’ health and safety.”