Despite the Big Ten’s decision to postpone football and fall sports on Tuesday, Michigan coaches and players carried on with practice not long after the announcement was made.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh released a statement expressing his disappointment at the decision. A few players, notably defensive end Kwity Paye and tight end Nick Eubanks, posted on Twitter, but defensive back Tyler Cochran was outraged by the decision and took Michigan president Mark Schlissel to task for not being transparent with the team and not communicating with them during the journey that reached this decision.
The Big Ten last Wednesday announced a conference-only 10-game composite football schedule. Preseason camp opened last Thursday and Friday, but the Big Ten on Saturday said teams had to pause a move to padded practices and remain helmets only.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said Tuesday the conference will explore moving the fall sports to the spring.
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Cochran, whose father, Brad, was an All-American at Michigan posted on Instagram that he dropped a class last year so he’d be one credit short of graduating enabling him to return to play football for his final year of eligibility.
“Unfortunately, the incompetent Presidents of the (Big Ten) decided, despite constant testing and strict protocols, that the voices of the players were irrelevant and canceled the season,” Cochran wrote. “It’s even more disappointing that the (Michigan) president did not come speak to our team or even explain his decision-making process. Not surprising since I’ve never seen him in the facility in my four-plus years here. Due to this decision, I, along with many of my brothers, may never be able to play the game of football again.”
He wrote that it had always been his dream to follow in his father’s footsteps at Michigan.
“I got to share the honor of playing for Michigan with my father,” Cochran wrote. “If I never get the opportunity to play football again … this has still been more than a dream come true.”
Several of his teammates "liked” the post and expressed their feelings for him.
Defensive end Kwity Paye, who likely has played his last game for Michigan and will pursue the NFL, posted on Twitter: “Forever Go Blue”. Tight end Nick Eubanks also posted what looked like a farewell: “GoBlue”. Defensive line coach Shaun Nua tweeted: “Stay strong to the BLUE Faithful, especially our players!”
Harbaugh issued his comment shortly after the Big Ten made public its decision Tuesday afternoon.
“Our student-athletes and coaches want to compete,” said Harbaugh, who on Monday issued a lengthy statement detailing why the Big Ten should have a season this fall. “They have committed, trained and prepared their entire lives for this opportunity, and I know how much they’re disappointed at this time. I share in their disappointment today.
“We have shown over the weeks since returning to campus that we could meet the challenge and provide our student-athletes the opportunity of a fall football season. Our football team, our coaching staff, our support staff in Schembechler Hall have all stepped up, followed every rule, and done everything in their power magnificently to give all the opportunity to compete. I am extremely proud, thankful and appreciative of our team and how they have conducted and represented our program and university.”
The football team is still participating in voluntary practices, meetings and strength and conditioning under the 20-hour rule through camp, according to football team spokesman Dave Ablauf. The Big Ten communicated to Michigan that practices could continue in this manner.