The Wolverine

September 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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82 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2016 O n Aug. 2, Michigan unveiled its new uniforms and more — shoes, sweats, sideline gear, helmets — with a memorable ceremony at the Ford Piquette Plant in Detroit. They built suspense by bringing media members room to room during the presentation, sliding massive garage doors (behind which classic Model Ts used to be assembled) aside to reveal the next big thing in Michigan gear. Behind door No. 2 — former Michi- gan Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson with his arms spread wide and signature smile, donned in Jump- man gear from head to toe. "Man, you see what I got on? Jordan shirt, Jordan pants. I'm going to be all right," he said with a laugh when asked if he was jealous of today's team. "But it's been crazy. Looking on social media, all that stuff, the turnout they had at The M Den [for the release of Nike-branded items for the public to buy] the other night, how many people lined up down street. "You sense how big it is for Michi- gan to go back to Nike and Jump- man." Some, the so-called "traditionalists," weren't as convinced, while many ri- vals and their fans became part of the "it's just a uniform" crowd. In reality, it's another step in head coach Jim Harbaugh's grand plan to bring Michigan football to the pin- nacle. Gimmicks are for programs that can't compete, and nothing Harbaugh has done since he arrived could be considered as anything short of first- class. "The greatest share of success is your effort and your talent and the work you put in, but as [my dad] Jack Harbaugh said, 'You are with whom you are associated' … the highest level companies, brand, products," Harbaugh said. "That just goes along with a principle we have and what we truly believe — to be associated with greatness." It's not the first time Harbaugh has made use of the biggest names in ath- letics to sell the Michigan brand, and it won't be the last. WWE wrestler Ric Flair, former New York Yankees short- stop Derek Jeter, and New England Patriots quarterback and Michigan alum Tom Brady all made appear- ances at the Signing of the Stars re- cruiting event in February. A week after the Jumpman gear was released, world-class actor Mark Wahlberg — a visitor to Michigan Stadium several months ago while in Detroit to film a movie — took to Twitter to thank Harbaugh and the Wolverines for their gift of U-M gear, including Harbaugh's famed No. 4 jersey. Days after that, Harbaugh held a press conference with photographer David Turnley — Pulitzer Prize- winning photographer David Turn- ley — to promote their new book of photos chronicling Harbaugh's first year at the helm, Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind. Turnley was with the program nearly every day for a year starting last spring and is "part of the program now," Harbaugh said. He even has a parking spot at Schembechler Hall. He's a man of the world, having been on the front lines during wars, but he ranked shooting the U-M program among his highlights. "I've shot Nelson Mandela, Mu- hammad Ali, General Norman Schwarzkopf, [President] Obama, and you see the same stars in the eyes with Coach Harbaugh," said Turnley, a 1977 Michigan graduate. "… I can't re- ally say enough how special this expe- rience is for me on so many different levels that, in an interesting way, has brought my life in a kind of full circle. It's just really a special group of men, and Coach Harbaugh is an extraordi- narily special person." One who knows to surround him- self with others at the top of their craft, as he likes to put it. While some in the media tried to play the "how much is too much?" card with the Michigan players during Big Ten Media Days, none of them were biting, their coach's teachings having soaked in. "It's great. You want to associate yourself with successful people and winners, and obviously Michael Jor- dan is the perfect example of what it means to be successful and be a win- ner," senior tight end Jake Butt said. "I know we are all really excited and grateful to be the ambassadors of the Jordan brand for our football team." Because like Jordan, the old Model T and Turnley, Michigan football is shooting to be the best of its gen- eration. None of what Harbaugh has done has sacrificed any of the tradi- tion upon which the program has been built — it's only helped put them in position to achieve the one tradition every Michigan fan covets more than any other: Winning. ❏ Chris Balas has been with The Wolver- ine since 1997, working part time for five years before joining the staff full time in 2002. Contact him at cbalas@ and follow him on Twitter at Balas_Wolverine. INSIDE MICHIGAN   CHRIS BALAS A Means To An End Charles Woodson said at the public unveiling of Michigan's new football uniforms: "You sense how big it is for Michigan to go back to Nike and Jumpman." PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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