Harbaugh: Michigan players elated by schedule release, prospect of playing
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said that after players and coaches got the news Wednesday that the Big Ten season is back on, practice was spirited.
Harbaugh appeared Saturday morning on ESPN’s College GameDay and said his team, which has never taken a break from practice since the Aug. 11 announcement postponing fall sports, is rejuvenated now that the eight-game season with a plus-one crossover seeded game begins Oct. 24.
“That was a good feeling,” Harbaugh said of hearing the news of a season starting. “There’s a lot of juice. That’s been our best practice of the fall. Guys are excited about it. They want to play.”
The Big Ten released the eight-game conference-only schedule on Saturday and Michigan will open at Minnesota on Oct. 24 and conclude the regular season at Ohio State on Dec. 12.
Michigan receiver Giles Jackson said Thursday during a videoconference with reporters that the emotional level of practice definitely increased last Wednesday after getting the news.
“More adrenaline,” he said of practice. “We have a season, we’re having fun.”
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Harbaugh joined a parent-led protest Sept. 5 that began outside Michigan Stadium, where the Wolverines would have been opening the season in the 10-game schedule the Big Ten had released shortly before pulling the plug on the season.
He had made his sentiments clear all along that he supported his players and their desire to play and reiterated it during the protest saying the Wolverines wanted to play. Even his brother, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, shared with his beat reporters this slogan, “Free the Big Ten.”
“Some have trained their whole lives,” Harbaugh said on the show. “It’s not just a game to some people.”
Linebacker Josh Ross, who missed much of last season with a high ankle sprain, was elated.
“It was so exciting hearing that news finally,” Ross said Thursday during a Zoom call with reporters. “That’s how I was feeling. Like, finally. We had been putting so much work in preparing and it’s just a blessing we get to play this fall.”
Michigan players have practiced all along, even after the season was postponed Aug. 11, just a few days into camp. Harbaugh said his players “kept the faith” and wanted to stay ready. Earlier this month he said his team could be ready to play in two weeks.
“Now we get the chance to have a season,” he said on GameDay. “Game on.”
The Big Ten’s COVID-19 protocols include a tough penalty for any player who tests positive – sitting out 21 days, which Ross said is incentive to remain vigilant wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining social distancing.
“We’re doing all that,” Harbaugh said. “Staying healthy so you can be out there on the field and have your opportunity to play.
“Our guys have done a really good job and they’ve got to continue to stay diligent. An eight-game season, out 21 days, that’d be at least three games or more. Definitely want them to stay positive, test negative and get ready to play like a Wolverine.”