COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Michigan’s athletic director called ESPN commentator and former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit a “fool” for suggesting that the Wolverines should wave the “white flag” and cancel their game against Ohio State.
Herbstreit’s comments came Tuesday night when the second set of College Football Playoff rankings were unveiled on ESPN. The Buckeyes are fourth, and the Wolverines are unranked with a 2-4 record.
“I still think Michigan waves the white flag and potentially avoids playing Ohio State next week,” Herbstreit said. “Michigan could opt out basically of that game and keep Ohio State out of six games to qualify for the Big Ten championship.”
The Wolverines have canceled their game Saturday against Maryland because of COVID-19 cases in the program, saying the soonest that the team could get back to practice is Monday. Their game against the Buckeyes is scheduled for noon on Dec. 12 at Ohio Stadium.
Under the current scenario in the Big Ten, any team needs to play at least six games to be eligible for the conference championship game. The Buckeyes, after canceling their game last Saturday at Illinois because of COVID-19 concerns, are 4-0 with two games remaining.
Later Tuesday night, Herbstreit posted a video on social media apologizing for his remarks.
“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 (coach) Jim Harbaugh, to his players and coaches. I just wanted to apologize.”
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel responded Wednesday in a video posted to the school’s athletic website.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Manuel said. “I have to pause because my words … the anger. I was infuriated by the insinuation that Michigan would do anything other than play a football game. We have been playing this game since 1879 — 1879 — and we’re the winningest program for a reason. …
“The only way we want to keep anybody from moving on is to beat them on the field of play. And to insinuate that and to say something other than that, is a statement by a fool, and it is something 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.”
Herbstreit was a quarterback for Ohio State from 1989 to ’92.