With Ohio State drawing closer to failing to qualify for the Big Ten Championship Game, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit suggested on the network's College Football Playoff rankings show Tuesday that the Michigan Wolverines could purposely duck the Buckeyes for their scheduled Dec. 12 meeting.
Herbstreit apologized for his comments in a tweet after the show.
"I had no business at all saying that," Herbstreit said. "I have no evidence of that. It was completely unfair to the University of Michigan, to Jim Harbaugh, to his players and coaches, and I just wanted to apologize."
The 4-0 Buckeyes, who were slotted No. 4 in the latest edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, are dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 that has jeopardized this weekend's game against Michigan State, a week after their game against Illinois was canceled after the program had to stop football activities Nov. 27.
Last week's cancellation was the second of the year for the Buckeyes, who have just two games left on the schedule. In order to be eligible for the Big Ten Championship Game, schools must play at least six games. So if Ohio State, the only undefeated team in the conference, misses its game against Michigan State or Michigan, it will be ruled ineligible.
Maryland is also on the brink of ineligibility with four games played and two left in the regular season. Both teams are scheduled to play Michigan, which is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak of its own. The Wolverines have held all team activities virtually since Monday "out of an abundance of caution," according to Derick Hutchinson of ClickOnDetroit.
After canceling consecutive games due to their own outbreak and falling victim to a cancellation after Minnesota was forced to sit out a game due to COVID-19, Wisconsin is already eliminated from the Big Ten title game on the basis of games played.