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‘Free the Big Ten’: Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants fall season, with brother Jim Harbaugh eager to play

Ravens coach John Harbaugh knows he’ll have a season this year. Now he wants one for his brother, too.

Near the end of a video conference call Wednesday that focused mainly on the Ravens’ looming roster decisions, Harbaugh said he wanted to “throw a little controversy out there.”

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“This is my position,” he said. “I say: Free the Big Ten. Free the Big Ten. Let’s go. Let’s play some football. Let’s get Michigan and Ohio State and all those great teams playing some football out there.”

Harbaugh’s younger brother, Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Big Ten Conference’s decision to postpone the 2020 season indefinitely because of coronavirus concerns. “We respect the challenge that the virus has presented, however we will not cower from it,” Jim Harbaugh said last month. “Stay Positive! Test Negative! Play Football!” he tweeted Monday.

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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren about reinstating the fall season. The conference, which announced Aug. 11 that it would move its football season to the spring semester because of health risks associated with the pandemic, said in a statement that Warren and Trump had a “productive conversation.”

Warren has been under pressure for three weeks as the outcry against the decision, which the Pac-12 Conference soon followed, has grown louder. Last week, a group of Nebraska players filed a lawsuit seeking a reversal of the decision, and Gov. Pete Ricketts has been a vocal proponent of the Cornhuskers playing fall football.

Big Ten officials are reportedly working on multiple plans for staging a football season, including one that would have the league kicking off during the Thanksgiving weekend. Teams in the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 Conference, the only “Power Five” leagues playing this fall, are scheduled to open their season this month.

John Harbaugh said Michigan’s football team had zero positive test results for COVID-19 during August. In-person classes at the Ann Arbor school didn’t resume until Monday.

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“They’re doing a great job with their protocols, and those guys want to play,” John Harbaugh said. “And for anybody that wants to opt out, they can. They can. Their families should have that choice, just like the [Southeastern] Conference gave the players and families in the [Southeastern] Conference that choice, and most them, as you know decided, to play as a family. So I think the Big Ten players and families should have that same choice.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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