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Michigan QB Wore A ‘Free Harbaugh’ Shirt Amid Ban

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In a reference to coach Jim Harbaugh, who is now serving a three-game suspension from the school, Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy wore a “FREE Harbaugh” jersey before and after the game on Saturday.

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

As he walked off the bus, during pregame warm-ups, and during the postgame news conference, McCarthy donned the Harbaugh No. 4 shirt with the word “FREE” scrawled in marker on white tape above the coach’s name.

On the team’s opening offensive drive, the players held up four fingers in allusion to Harbaugh’s former Wolverines jersey number as they lined up in the notorious train formation that he popularized.

“That was definitely a tribute to Coach Harbaugh,” McCarthy said. “That was pretty cool to do that.”

The university has self-imposed sanctions on Harbaugh as a result of an NCAA investigation into inappropriate recruiting contact and Harbaugh’s alleged lack of cooperation with the NCAA.

Since Sherrone Moore, the offensive coordinator, was also serving a one-game ban due to the inquiry, Jesse Minter, the defensive coordinator, took over as the head coach for Saturday’s game. The Wolverines, especially McCarthy, who threw for 280 yards and three touchdown passes in the victory, didn’t seem to be affected by it.

McCarthy claims that Harbaugh and Moore watched Saturday’s game together while they were serving their suspensions.

During the week, Harbaugh was able to lead the team and assist the coaching staff with the game plan.

“When I saw him last night, it really really hit me that it’s really going down,” Minter said.

Moore will be back the following week when Michigan plays UNLV, with Mike Hart and Jay Harbaugh splitting the job of head coach. Following that, Moore will serve as the season’s third opponent, Bowling Green, as the head coach.

McCarthy claimed that the team wanted its coach on the sidelines despite winning the game.

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

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