Jim Harbaugh comfortable playing games without fans: ‘Heck yeah’
Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is completely behind holding the 2020 college football season, even if doing so requires playing in empty stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Appearing Wednesday on ESPN’s “Get Up,” Harbaugh weighed in on the increasing likelihood that football stadiums across the country — including Michigan’s iconic “The Big House” — will have no fans in attendance if the decision is made to play out the upcoming season in some capacity.
Harbaugh also stated that a majority of individuals involved with the Wolverines program feels the same way as him about holding the 2020 season, even if 170,000 fans won’t be able to pack Michigan Stadium this fall.
“You could definitely test both teams, you could test the officials and everybody, but can you test 100,000 fans coming into a stadium?” Harbaugh said, per The Detroit News. “Probably not. Without a vaccine, you probably couldn’t do that.
“To answer your question, 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. And darn near every guy I’ve talked to on our team, that’s the way they feel about it.”
Comments made by Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer earlier this month appeared to all but confirm any sporting event held in the state in the foreseeable future will not have fans in attendance by stating “we’re not going to be filling stadiums in the fall.”
The governor later walked back that statement by pointing out that even if things look bleak at this point, “It doesn’t mean that sports is over.”
How college football will approach the upcoming season — including whether it’s even held — will rely upon myriad factors, including how governmental policies and protocols at the state and local levels could derail even the best-laid plans by the NCAA as well as individual conferences.
Still, it will be interesting to see if Harbaugh’s all-in approach to playing football in the fall despite an abundance of shortcomings highlighted by the absence of fans is shared by his fellow coaching colleagues.