Michigan AD: Ohio State Shouldn't Be Punished for Not Playing 6 Games Amid COVID

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistDecember 8, 2020

Michigan Director of Athletics Warde Manuel addresses the media after Juwan Howard was introduced as the new men's basketball coach, Thursday, May 30, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

In the wake of Michigan having to cancel Saturday's game against Ohio State due to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases within the football program, Wolverines athletic director Warde Manuel hopes the Buckeyes don't get punished for not meeting the Big Ten's minimum-game threshold. 

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Warde said he and the Big Ten are "open about conversation” that would allow Ohio State to play in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 19. 

"We made a decision months ago, not knowing where this virus would take us. I don’t think anyone should be punished by decisions we made (months ago)," he added. 

Saturday's cancellation leaves Ohio State with only five games played during the regular season. Michigan also had to cancel last week's game against Maryland due to COVID-19 concerns.

This marks the third cancellation for Ohio State this season after a Nov. 14 game against Maryland and Nov. 28 game against Illinois. 

Per the Big Ten's adopted rules for this season, teams are required to play at least six games to qualify for the conference title game.

That number was allowed to be adjusted down to four if the entire conference had enough cancellations that the average games played for each team fell below six.

Brett McMurphy of Stadium reported Dec. 5 that Big Ten athletic directors "will likely" change conference title game requirements, "but it won’t be an easy decision."

Based on the current rule, the Big Ten Championship Game will feature No. 8 Indiana taking on No. 15 Northwestern. 

The Buckeyes are currently ranked No. 4 in the College Football Playoff standings. They will still be eligible for the four-team playoff if they don't play in the Big Ten title game.