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Harbaugh set to return

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh watches warmups before an NCAA college football game against Ohio State in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. Michigan won 42-27. (AP Photo/Tony Ding, File)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Wolverines junior quarterback J.J. McCarthy is looking forward to taking some pregame hits in Indianapolis — friendly blows that will be delivered by his coach, Jim Harbaugh, who has completed the Big Ten’s suspension stemming from a sign-stealing investigation.

“Every game and it’s usually right before kickoff, he’ll come and find me,” McCarthy said.

“He’s all about getting that first hit and the butterflies just disintegrate from your body. He tries to do his best to simulate that.

“It’s a nice little weekly tradition that I can’t wait to get back.”

Harbaugh opened his press conference Monday by hailing his assistants and players for nearly 10 minutes for their performance in a 30-24 win over Ohio State, a game he watched at home with his wife while he served the final game of his suspension.

“Who could possibly have it better than us?” Harbaugh asked reporters ahead of his return to the No. 2 Wolverines’ sideline, which will come Saturday night in Indianapolis in the Big Ten championship game against the No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes.

Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore filled in for Harbaugh vs. the now-sixth-ranked Buckeyes. He’s happy to hand the reins back.

“I can’t wait for the opportunity to have him back on the field, to have the players see their leader, and the staff see their leader there. It’s going to make it even more sweeter,” he said.

The Wolverines started the season without Harbaugh, who was suspended by the school for three games for breaking NCAA rules, and closed it as he was banned by the Big Ten from leading them at the stadium on game days at Penn State and Maryland and against Ohio State.

Michigan fired linebackers coach Chris Partridge on Nov. 17, one day after the school and Big Ten reached an agreement in which Harbaugh would serve the suspension and the conference would end its investigation.

Partridge said Monday in a social media post he had no knowledge of the alleged in-person scouting and sign-stealing scheme for which the NCAA is still investigating the Wolverines and that he was fired for failing to abide by the school’s directive to avoid discussing the inquiry with “anyone associated with the program.”

Moore and players insist Harbaugh is missed on game days, despite their sustained success without him on the sideline.

“I’m super excited to have coach Harbaugh back,” running back Blake Corum said. “It’s been a long three games, but it’s been a good three games. Just having his enthusiasm back, his pregame speeches, just having his presence on the sideline will go a long way. We’ve been able to take care of business, but having him back on the sideline for the Big Ten championship will mean a lot.

“It’s going to be great. It’s going to be like a reunion.”

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