ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit ruffled more than a few feathers on Tuesday when he suggested that the University of Michigan could use the COVID-19 pandemic as a means of avoiding a matchup with the powerful rival Ohio State Buckeyes.
He later issued an apology for his comments.
It wasn’t long before Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel responded to Herbstreit’s comments, and needless to say, he was not happy with what the analyst had to say.
During an appearance this afternoon on MGoBlue TV, Manuel issued an impassioned rebuttal to Herbstreit as well as anyone who believes that Michigan would use the pandemic as an excuse to duck an opponent.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Manuel said. “I have to pause because of my words. I was angered, infuriated by the insinuation that Michigan would do anything other than play a football game. We’ve been playing this game since 1879. 1879. We’re the winningest program for a reason because we play whoever is in front of us. The only way we want to keep anybody from moving on is to beat them on the fields of play.
To insinuate that, to say something other than that is a statement by a fool. It is something that is—I can’t tell you how embarrassed I am for the Big Ten conference to have one of their representatives who played this game. To say that about any team in this conference and to say it about college football and the student-athletes around this country who are trying to play games during a pandemic is ridiculous and sad.”
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Wolverines announced the cancellation of their scheduled game against Maryland this weekend. Their next game against Ohio State remains on for now.