09/23/2014 08:19 am ET Updated Sep 23, 2014

Mark Harmon, Whose Father's Number 98 Michigan's Devin Gardner Wears, Defends The QB and Coach Brady Hoke

Most people probably know Mark Harmon as the gruff and charming boss man in the long-running CBS drama "NCIS." The Harmon name, however, has a special place in Michigan football lore.

Harmon's father, Tom, was a running back for the Wolverines from 1938 to 1940, winning the Heisman in 1940. Tom Harmon is one of the most decorated college football players in the sport's history (he led the nation in scoring his last two years in college) and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.

Harmon's iconic No. 98 had been retired since his playing days until last season, when Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner wore the number for Michigan's 41-30 win against Notre Dame last year. Gardner is wearing No. 98 this season, too, something the younger Harmon couldn't be happier about.

"He's an exceptional young man," Mark said in a HuffPost Live interview Monday. "Graduated early, terrific athlete, a leader. Just a special kid."

Mark, who played college football at UCLA from 1972 to 1973, stopped by HuffPost Live to chat about the upcoming season of "NCIS," but the conversation quickly turned to Michigan football. He said that Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon called the actor last season to gauge his interest in letting Gardner wear the number. It was an easy decision.

"My dad's not here, and you can't ask him, but if he were I think he would be more than 100 percent behind this and supportive," Mark told host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. "He's a great human being, a terrific human being, and I think the family is as proud of that as anything."

Harmon also fiercely defended beleaguered Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who is in danger of losing his job after a subpar 2-2 start this season.

"You're entitled to your opinion, but go try and do that job yourself, then talk about it," Harmon said. "It's a hugely hard job. I wish Coach Hoke all the luck in the world."

Watch the rest of the clip above, and catch the full HuffPost Live conversation here.

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