Paul Finebaum is a notorious critic of the Michigan Wolverines’ football program due to their poor performance in the biggest games. But on Monday, Finebaum had a bit of a different story when it came to University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel and his comments about the return of collegiate sports in the fall without students on campus.
Finebaum said on ESPN’s Get Up, “An interesting moment, I would even call it a seminal moment in this process where you have one of the bluest bloods in the sport, and that’s what was so interesting about what the Michigan president said. He essentially said ‘we don’t have to have college football. The University of Michigan is a billion-dollar operation, and football is a relatively small part of that.’ He gave the number, I think it was 185 million dollars, that is in contrast to what most of us think, that you can’t have a university without a college football program. That is saying just the opposite.”
Schlissel, of course, said on Sunday if students are not on campus, there would be no sports at Michigan. He further added, “Any decision we make for this coming fall is likely going to be the case for the whole academic year.” Hypothetically, that could mean a whole calendar year of no sports for the student-athletes and fans of the Wolverines.
That message was a striking antonym to that of Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh who said on Get Up last Wednesday he’d welcomed playing games as a program without fans in attendance.
"Heck yeah I'd be comfortable coaching a game without any fans. If the choice were play in front of no fans or not play, then I would choose to play in front of no fans."— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) May 20, 2020
—Jim Harbaugh pic.twitter.com/12O2kDP5gN
While Harbaugh’s sole purpose at Michigan is to focus on football, Schlissel has the obligation to consider much further: the students and staff at the University of Michigan. If that means sacrificing millions of dollars in athletics, Schlissel is more than comfortable with the ‘billion-dollar’ operation that is Michigan.
Finebaum highlighted this kind of skirmish may not be the only one at the major collegiate level.
“I don’t think (Schlissel) is on an island, but we have not heard that from many presidents,” he added. “We heard from Gordon Gee (WVU president) the other day and he said ‘yeah, I’m ready to play football, we’re going to play.’ I think you’re going to see isolated cases and I think the Michigan president is going to carry a lot of weight primarily because he is a physician, he’s an immunologist. He’s not your garden variety school president, and I think he’s going to send a message across the board, ‘be careful here.’”
The message is loud and clear, and if blue blood programs like Michigan are considering a cancellation of collegiate sports, there have to be plenty more who are having those same conversations. Michigan’s decision could be a domino effect across the Big Ten and potentially across the country as they decide the best way to move forward in this extremely unusual time.
Michigan football jumps into top 10 of 2021 class rankings
It was a great Memorial Day weekend for Harbaugh and his coaching staff, as they added two four-star recruits to their already star-studded 2021 recruiting class.
On Sunday, the Wolverines added the No. 116 player in the country in linebacker Junior Colson. The outside linebacker is the No. 8 player at his position and resides in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Don Brown added even more to his defense with four-star Jaydon Hood on Monday. Hood was the fourth linebacker to sign with Michigan in the class of 2021, but unlike Colson, he lines up on the inside.
After these two commitments, the Wolverines now boast the No. 6 class in the country, according to 247Sports’ composite, albeit with plenty of time remaining. They come second only to Ohio State in the Big Ten, who holds the No. 1 class in the land. Tennessee, Clemson, North Carolina and USC round out the top five.
Michigan basketball offers another top 50 2021 recruit
Juwan Howard keeps his hopes very high for the 2021 class as he offered four-star small forward Quincy Allen on Friday.
As the No. 46 player in the country, Allen has earned offers from NC State, Colorado, Clemson, Florida, Louisville, Syracuse among others.
Allen becomes the eleventh top 50 recruit Michigan has offered in the 2021 class.
- German Bundesliga action returned on Sunday as one of the first full-contact sports to return amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Georgetown head coach and former NBA star Patrick Ewing returned home from the hospital. He was admitted last week due to the coronavirus.