Michigan Wolverines: 3 reasons football will regret sitting out this season

(Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) /

It was recently reported that a vote for the Big Ten Conference and the University of Michigan Wolverines to resume fall athletics may take place as early as this weekend.

Moving through the second weekend of the college football season, it’s easy to understand why so many Michigan Wolverines football fans are disappointed. For the first time since the program’s inception in 1879, those that bleed maize and blue won’t have a team to root for on Saturdays.

Making the matter worse, a handful of other Power 5 conferences will be kicking their seasons off over the next few days. The Big Ten’s decision to postpone its fall sports season because of the risks associated with COVID-19 has been highly scrutinized.

A panel consisting of member university presidents and chancellors, including the University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel, voted 11-3 on Aug. 11 in favor of the proposal. Now, the same group is rumored to be revisiting the decision with a new vote to resume play coming within the next week.

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Here are three reasons why Schlissel and the Wolverines’ brass, as well as others in the conference, might want to reconsider their current position:

Reason #1:

The ugly truth is that Michigan Wolverines football is not just another program within the university’s athletic department.

In all actuality, the grim reality is that Jim Harbaugh and company are a multi-million dollar corporation operating under the pretense of being nothing more than a football team.

According to an article published in MLive this August, sitting out the season is estimated to cost the university at least $56.6M.

The figure doesn’t include television and other media revenues. Furthermore, it doesn’t factor in the massive contributions from university donors who are rumored to be unhappy with the current status quo.

To make a long story short, the financial losses would potentially be catastrophic to the athletic department and its other sports that have traditionally relied on the football team for funding.

Remove the emotion and think about the impact from a logical standpoint. What business or corporation could risk eliminating it’s highest revenue-grossing product for a whole year and expect to continue thriving in the future?

Reason #2:

A majority of student-athletes at major college programs are just the opposite. The term athlete always seems to come first for those individuals whose aspirations of careers in the professional ranks often undermine the health of their academic development.

In layman’s terms, those recruits often choose their universities based on two factors. The first is which school offers the best opportunity to win a National Championship? Secondly. Which program will serve as the pest pathway to millions of dollars in the NFL?

The relationship between the prospects and their programs is a continuing cycle where each impacts the other on an annual basis. Michigan already struggles in recruiting battles against the likes of Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia.

Now, the Wolverines are giving prospective athletes the impression that football isn’t what matters most on their campus. Although it’s a responsible decision in the wake of this pandemic, it won’t help them in their pursuit of rivaling those other “blue-blood” programs. Prestige is at risk.

Reason #3:

What type of impact will sitting out this season while other teams play affect the devotion of “Go Blue” fans everywhere? They’ve already suffered through the embarrassments of the Rich Rodriguez, and Brady Hoke hires. Harbaugh’s salary and lack of success against rivals and in big games is the current running joke for naysayers and opposing fan bases.

When you have nothing left but your pride, at what cost do you continue to bleed the colors of a program that isn’t interested in partaking in the one activity that makes them relevant?

Fans may realize it’s not so bad spending Saturdays without those laboring trips to the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which certainly tax the pocket-book and demand the dedication of one’s emotions. Will fans forgive the school as they watch others around the country competing week after week?

Without the fans, the recruits, and the revenue, the University of Michigan Wolverines football program is nothing more than an intramural team to distract the students from their ambitious fervor for higher education.

Wolverines football drives the growth and development of the university not only from an athletic standpoint but also in its mandate for academic expansion.

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Hopefully, Schlissel and his peers realize what’s really at stake when the time comes to vote again. Because the cost will ultimately be more significant than anyone can foresee…