‘Free Harbaugh’: QB wants coach back amid ban

Published on:

Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy wore a “FREE Harbaugh” shirt before and after Saturday’s game in a nod to coach Jim Harbaugh, who is serving a school-imposed three-game suspension.

“I just want my coach back,” McCarthy said after Michigan’s 30-3 win over East Carolina on Saturday.

McCarthy wore the the Harbaugh No. 4 shirt with the word “FREE” written in marker on white tape above the coach’s name as he got off the bus, during pregame warmups and during the postgame news conference.

When asked why he was wearing his customized “Free Harbaugh” shirt on Saturday, Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy said simply: “I just want my coach back.” Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

The team lined up in Harbaugh’s infamous train formation — all aligned in a single file — on the team’s first offensive possession while the players held up four fingers in reference to Harbaugh’s jersey number from his playing days with the Wolverines.

Harbaugh’s ban is part of the university’s self-imposed sanctions from an NCAA investigation into improper recruiting contact and Harbaugh allegedly not cooperating with the NCAA.

Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter served as the acting head coach in Saturday’s game, as offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore was also serving a one-game suspension related to the investigation. That didn’t seem to slow down the Wolverines, including McCarthy, who threw for 280 yards and three touchdown passes in the win.

Harbaugh and Moore, according to McCarthy, watched Saturday’s game together as they served their suspensions. Moore will be back next week for Michigan’s game against UNLV, with Jay Harbaugh and Mike Hart sharing head-coaching duties. Moore will then act as head coach for the third game of the season against Bowling Green.

Despite winning the game, McCarthy said the team wanted its coach on the sideline.

“I personally felt like something was missing today,” McCarthy said after the game. “And it was definitely him.”

- Advertisement -