Michigan football still doesn’t know when it’ll play its next game.
But players continue to prepare as if they’ll play a season within the next year – and are undaunted by the prospect of playing a winter or spring season.
“I’d be thrilled to play football in January or April or May,” said defensive end Aidan Hutchinson on Thursday afternoon in a Zoom call. “I don’t care when we play football.”
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Just over two weeks after the Big Ten’s postponement of all fall sports, many of the Wolverines still remain in Ann Arbor, continuing team workouts and practices. The program is allowed 12 countable hours per week after the NCAA recently passed rules geared toward programs whose seasons had been canceled due to COVID-19.
“From the first day that the season was canceled, it almost seemed like it wasn’t cancelled,” Hutchinson said. “We never really stopped practice. We had a couple days off after the season got cancelled. Otherwise, we’ve been plugging away.
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“When we had our team meeting and Harbaugh announced that the season was canceled, he said it and was like, ‘All right, let’s go practice.’ It was a little bit hard to process at first but Harbaugh’s a guy that when he gets bad news, he’s gonna move on and keep plugging away and keep working hard.”
As the Wolverines continue to practice, reports emerged Friday suggesting that the conference was considering an eight-game season that would begin the week of Thanksgiving – a couple months earlier than previous reports that suggested a possible start date of January.
The conference has also been scouting domes such as Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, Detroit’s Ford Field, Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium and St. Louis’ The Dome at America’s Center, according to the Columbus Dispatch, presumably for a winter or spring season that could bring harsh weather.
Some have suggested that playing two seasons in one calendar year – which would be the case if teams played during the winter or spring and then the following season took place in fall of 2021 – could be too physically draining.
Michigan’s players, though, believe it would be possible.
“Yeah, it’ll be tough but I think it’s possible,” said tight end Nick Eubanks. “But like I said, being accustomed to football all the time you face things like that. Just being able to recover well and just follow those protocols and stay healthy, I think it’s possible to. I don’t think it’s something that you can’t do.”
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Added Hutchinson: “Having any season, I wouldn’t be thinking about the next season, talking about two seasons in one calendar year, because I just really want to play.”
When asked about the potential to play in the winter or spring, fullback Ben Mason said the players have been taking it “day by day,” staying focused on daily tasks such as practicing, eating right and lifting weights.
“We never know when our opportunity’s gonna come,” Mason said, “so whenever it does, let’s just be ready.”
There’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Big Ten and when it’ll play football again, and Mason acknowledged he and his teammates are just as unsure as the general public. But he didn’t seem affected by the unpredictability of his situation.
“Give us the date,” Mason said, “and we’ll be there.”