It was late Tuesday night, and Brian Mayfield had more questions than answers.
Mayfield, the father of Michigan football’s star offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield, had just finished a call with Jim Harbaugh.
The meeting was to inform the team’s parents about what might happen next, following the Big Ten’s postponement of fall sports due to COVID-19.
According to Mayfield, Harbaugh was disappointed, though he told parents that the Wolverines would try to remain “upbeat and move forward and try to deal with it and get better individually in drills.”
[ Harbaugh reacts to Big Ten cancellation: Here’s his statement ]
But aside from that, Harbaugh and Michigan couldn’t offer any specific details about a potential spring season – because they had none from the Big Ten or NCAA. Bombarded by questions from parents, all the Wolverines could offer was that they would continue to practice as they prepared for a season with an unknown starting date.
“It wasn’t that clear, you know?” Mayfield told the Free Press. “They’re just going to practice four times a week and work on skills with no pads, or whatever. Who knows? It just seems different. It seems weird. I don’t know if they have a plan. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s going on with everybody.”
On Wednesday evening, the NCAA announced that its Division I Council recommended a change in eligibility to the Board of Directors, giving fall sports student-athletes who have their seasons cut short by COVID-19 concerns an extension of their five-year period of eligibility and an additional season of competition if they participate in 50% of less of the maximum number of games. The board is to vote on this measure later this month.
[ Mitch Albom: Big Ten cancellation reminds us football is just a game ]
As the father of a highly-regarded 2021 NFL draft prospect, Brian Mayfield is deeply invested in learning what a spring season would look like, given the role it could play in his son’s future.
How many games would there be? Would Michigan’s 2021 recruiting class be able to play immediately? How many scholarships would the program have? How might Big Ten teams play in the spring, considering the area’s notoriously harsh weather? And would it even be possible to play then, assuming the country continues to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic?
“Nobody’s going to play 20-some games in a year,” Mayfield said. “If they turn around and play in February or March, then in the NFL or college, you turn around back in August. I just can’t see anybody doing that.
“I just think it’s different for some kids. If you’re highly-rated and could leave after a good year, it just doesn’t make sense to risk getting hurt, to play. I’ve just got to hear what they’re talking about as far as what their plan is. It just seems crazy.”
[ ‘We’re all pretty upset’: U-M players react to Big Ten postponement ]
Jalen Mayfield had told his family that he would not opt out of the season. But that was under the assumption of the season occurring in the fall. Now, the family will step back and gather more information before coming to any decision on what Jalen Mayfield will do.
“Everybody’s frustrated,” Brian Mayfield said. “Everybody doesn’t have a say in it. So it’s just disappointing. And whatever decision you make, it doesn’t look good. If you make a decision for yourself, you look selfish. If you make a decision for your team, then you could be hurting yourself. I just wish they could pinpoint what’s going to happen or what’s going on.
“We’ve just got to sit down and wait. We’ve got to see what’s going to happen. We just don’t know if they move the draft back. We’ve got to find out what’s definitely going to happen. I will say this, I can’t see any guy that’s draft-eligible or a highly-ranked prospect playing in the spring a month before the draft. I just can’t see that. I don’t understand what cat would do that.”
While the football program announced late Tuesday afternoon that it would be permitted 20 hours of voluntary workouts each week, the father also had concerns about what those workouts would entail.
“You’ve got helmets on,” Ma…