Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore both were serving suspensions for the team’s opener against East Carolina, so they decided to watch together at Moore’s home.
“I said, ‘Hey, let’s watch the game together,’ and he said, ‘Why don’t you come over,’” Harbaugh said Monday. “His wife, Kelli, had some sandwiches, his two daughters were there, and my son Johnny. We had a good time. It was good, excellent.
“I really loved what I saw out of our team.”
The second-ranked Wolverines beat East Carolina 30-3, as quarterback J.J. McCarthy passed for 280 yards and three touchdowns and Michigan held the Pirates scoreless until the last play. Michigan self-imposed a three-game suspension for Harbaugh and a one-game suspension for Moore because of NCAA recruiting violations during the COVID-19 dead period. The school imposed the discipline to get ahead of the NCAA infractions process after a negotiated resolution for Harbaugh, which included a four-game suspension, fell apart.
Harbaugh will miss this week’s game against UNLV and a Sept. 16 contest against Bowling Green. Special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh, son of Jim Harbaugh, and running backs coach Mike Hart will serve as co-head coaches this week against UNLV. Moore will handle head-coaching duties for the Bowling Green game. Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter filled in for Harbaugh against East Carolina.
Jim Harbaugh on Monday referenced a message he received from longtime friend Jim Minick, who served in the military and worked for Michigan football early in Harbaugh’s tenure.
“He said, ‘There’s a military saying that the true sign of your leadership is what your unit does when you aren’t there,’” Harbaugh said. “For us, I thought it was really great. Our captains, our senior leadership, our coaches, all were phenomenal. When we started fall camp, I told the team, ‘Moses had 70 leaders, how many do you think we need? More. We need a lot more.’ I think we have that, and it’s building. You talk about turning a negative into a positive.
“I just love the way our team is doing that.”
Although Michigan is heavily favored to win all three games during the suspension, Harbaugh last week called the punishment “a baseball bat to the kneecaps.” McCarthy wore a “Free Harbaugh” shirt before and after the game, and the offense began in Harbaugh’s train formation — all lined up behind each other — while holding up four fingers for Harbaugh’s number as a Michigan and NFL quarterback.
“It was great watching the team,” Harbaugh said. “They played fast, physical, smart, tough and, personally, I felt the love, too, which was great, from our team and from the Michigan faithful. So, good day.”
Jim Harbaugh praised quarterbacks coach Kirk Campbell for handling the offensive playcalling against ECU and having McCarthy spread the ball to wide receiver Roman Wilson and others.
Jay Harbaugh will serve as Michigan’s coach in the first half against UNLV, and Hart will take over from the start of halftime through the end of the game.
“To be able to share this opportunity with him is an honor,” said Hart, a former Michigan running back and the school’s all-time leading rusher, with 5,040 yards. “Hopefully, we take care of business and in the second half, it’s easy for me and I don’t have to mess it up.”