Michigan was without head coach Jim Harbaugh for their season opener. Harbaugh’s currently serving a self-imposed (by the university) suspension the first three games of the year in the midst of an NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harbaugh not being on the sideline, being with the team, is something that quarterback J.J. McCarthy reflected upon after Michigan’s 30-3 win over East Carolina.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I wasn’t expecting it to be that much different, but I personally just felt like something was missing today and it was definitely him,” McCarthy said. “His presence — it’s all about winning, all about competing, all about pushing through. As simple as the pregame speech, I was missing that voice.”
While McCarthy’s not happy about Harbaugh’s suspension, he knows Harbaugh will be back soon enough. Even so, McCarthy feels for him because of Harbaugh’s devotion to his job and the game of football.
“It really sucked going out there, first game and him not being out there because he put as much blood sweat and tears into this as much as we have. It’s unfortunate but we know we get him back week four and he’s going to be hungrier than ever.”
McCarthy wore a “Free Harbaugh” shirt before and after the game, a representation of what McCarthy and the team as a whole think about the situation.
J.J. McCarthy rocking the Free Harbaugh shirt at the post game presser pic.twitter.com/lWs7lfqzfU— Trevor Woods (@WoodsFootball) September 2, 2023
“I just want my coach back,” McCarthy said about the shirt.
Running back Blake Corum said he texted Harbaugh something that Harbaugh always tells the team before the game. It said, “play as hard as you can, as fast as you can, and don’t worry”.
“I miss hearing that,” Corum said. “It kind of gets me pumped up.”
Earlier this week Harbaugh dismissed the notion that the suspension is a slap on the wrist and said it “feels like a baseball bat to the kneecaps”. Despite the current situation Harbaugh’s in he has to be pleased that the team won in convincing fashion and his quarterback was 26-of-30 for 280 yards and three touchdowns.
“Don’t get bitter, get better” was Harbaugh’s reaction to the suspension. And once he’s able to return to the sideline he and the rest of the Michigan team will be all the more fired up. That will occur on Sept. 23 at Michigan Stadium versus Rutgers.