Michigan's Jim Harbaugh on Big Ten Football: 'Stay Positive, Test Negative'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2020

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh calls a timeout in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Ohio State in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. Ohio State won 56-27. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
Tony Ding/Associated Press

Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh spoke Wednesday for the first time since it was announced that Big Ten football is returning next month amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Dave Ablauf and Chad Shepard of the University of Michigan's athletics website, Harbaugh said the following in a statement: "Great news today. Over the past month, I could sense the anticipation from our players and coaches, and I'm thrilled on their behalf that they will have a chance to play a 2020 season. Stay positive. Test negative. Let's play football."

After the Big Ten presidents and chancellors originally voted to postpone the 2020 Big Ten football season instead of holding it in the fall, the conference announced Wednesday that it will begin its season the weekend of Oct. 24.

Per ESPN's Adam Rittenberg and Heather Dinich, the Big Ten members voted unanimously to hold their season in the fall because of "daily testing capabilities and a stronger confidence in the latest medical information."

The Big Ten joins the SEC, ACC and Big 12 in holding a fall season, meaning the Pac-12 is the only Power Five conference that won't be participating.

As part of Wednesday's announcement, the Big Ten noted that teams will play eight games in eight weeks, with the Big Ten Championship Game occurring on Dec. 19. That will ensure that Big Ten teams are eligible for the College Football Playoff.

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According to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports, the games will be played on campus with no fans in attendance aside from family members of the players, although that could potentially change over time.

While the circumstances surrounding the 2020 college football season are unique, there will be plenty of pressure on Harbaugh and the Wolverines to perform regardless.

Harbaugh is 47-18 with five bowl appearances during his five seasons at Michigan, but the team's performance has largely been a disappointment relative to the hype that surrounded the program when Harbaugh arrived.

The Wolverines are just 1-4 in bowl games under Harbaugh, and they have yet to win more than 10 games in a season with him at the helm, including a 9-4 mark last year.

Michigan was expected to be neck and neck with rival Ohio State for Big Ten supremacy. However, the Buckeyes have dominated the Wolverines to the tune of a 5-0 record with Harbaugh as head coach at Michigan.

Another loss to Ohio State and another season without a Big Ten title could put Harbaugh in the hot seat.