Big Ten 'made a mistake' in deciding early to ax football season, ex-Wolverine Brian Griese says

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Former Michigan Brian Griese can only imagine what his life would have been like had he not played his senior year for the Wolverines when he guided them to an undefeated season and the national championship.

With that in mind, he said he feels for Big Ten football players who are not playing this fall. Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren announced Aug. 11 the decision to postpone the season because of health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. The Pac-12 also decided to postpone, while the three other Power Five conferences, the SEC, ACC and Big 12, still plan to play.

Brian Griese, center, with Louis Riddick and Steve Levy

Griese is preparing for his debut next week as part of the Monday Night Football booth— with Steve Levy and Louis Riddick — that will call the Titans-Broncos game next Monday at 10 p.m. on ESPN. During an ESPN conference call Wednesday, Griese, who has worked college football for the network since 2009, was asked his opinion of the Big Ten’s decision to postpone.

“I think it’s unfortunate,” Griese said. “Certainly, the Big Ten made a decision early on. They made a decision without consultation with other conferences, which I think was a mistake. I know they wanted to be ahead of it, but at the same time, in a rush to be one of the first and be a leader, I think they made a mistake in not waiting to get more information and more data back.

“The ones that are suffering are the kids.”

Griese shared how not playing his final season at Michigan would have completely altered his path. He was selected in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, where he played through 2002. He had a 10-year NFL career.

“I think back to if I didn’t have the chance to play my senior year at Michigan, I never would have gotten drafted,” Griese said. “I never would have come to Denver, I wouldn’t have met my wife, I wouldn’t have my kids, I wouldn’t be on this call today, I wouldn’t be doing Monday Night Football.

“It’s that game of sliding doors that is real for seniors that are playing in college right now that are not potentially going to have an opportunity to fulfill that dream, and that’s what bothers me the most.”

Meanwhile, Nebraska president Ted Carter, appearing Wednesday morning on KLIN News Talk 1400 AM, said the Big Ten’s “Return to Play” committee is working on plans that will be considered by the university presidents for a vote. Nebraska chancellor Ronnie Green, athletic director Bill Moos and football coach Scott Frost are all on the committee.

“They’re putting together some plans the presidents and chancellors will vote on very soon,” Carter said. “The fight is still on. We have been aligned here in this state from the get-go from the governor to myself, to the chancellors to our coaches and players that we feel it’s safe to play here. That’s been our theme, and we’re still strong on that.”

Carter said he’s been transparent throughout the entire process.

“We continue to say we feel we feel like we’re ready to play and can play,” he said.

Twitter: @chengelis