Kirk Herbstreit unleashed a pretty bold accusation against Michigan during ESPN's College Football Playoff rankings show on Tuesday night, suggesting that the Wolverines might duck the Buckeyes next week to keep Ohio State out of the Big Ten Championship game.
“I still think Michigan waves the white flag, potentially avoids playing Ohio State next week, and then they’ll potentially get a game on the 19th,” Herbstreit said. “Is that fair, David [Pollack]? Michigan could opt out, basically, of that game, and keep Ohio State out of six games to qualify for the Big Ten championship. That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Kirk Herbstreit dares Michigan not to duck Ohio State next week pic.twitter.com/K608RMgpiv— Ryan Glasspiegel (@sportsrapport) December 2, 2020
Michigan paused all in-person team activities on hold on Monday after a potential increase in positive COVID-19 tests. The team held all team activities virtually on Monday and Tuesday out of what Michigan called "an abundance of caution."
Herbstreit seemed to double down on his stance later in the segment, saying he's heard that coaches around the country feel opponents are opting out of games because they "don't want to get humiliated."
"I don't know all the numbers as far as COVID is concerned, but we live in such a strange world that they really feel teams are opting out to avoid playing games," Herbstreit said. "They don't want to get humiliated or lose with the team they have. They don't want to get embarrassed. There's a lot of that being talked about around the country."
Fox's Joel Klatt backed up Herbstreit's assertion, saying he has heard similar remarks from college football head coaches around the country.
CFP reactions— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) December 2, 2020
1) Top 4 are heads and shoulders above everyone else...@AlabamaFTBL #1 and then 2-3-4 however you like
2) @GeorgiaFootball in the top 10 is laughable
3) Disrespect for @BYUfootball is real and I don't understand
4) I hear same thing as @KirkHerbstreit from coaches!
Following a canceled game against Florida State, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney recently made comments in line with what Herbstreit and Klatt suggested, accusing Florida State of using COVID-19 as an "excuse" to cancel the game.
As for The Game, Herbstreit never budged from his stance that Michigan could potentially "wave the white flag."
"I have no idea what Michigan's situation is," Herbstreit said. "But they have to the power to say, 'hey, we're not playing next week.'"
Shortly after the ESPN show, however, Herbstreit went on Twitter to issue an apology for his comments, saying he had “no evidence” that Michigan would actually try to avoid playing Ohio State.
“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 Jim Harbaugh, to his players and coaches, and I just wanted to apologize.”