Ann Arbor — Shortly before noon on Tuesday, Al and Ann Marie Sopha walked into The Arena Sports Bar and Grill and made sure they were in the right place.
"Are you showing the press conference?" Al Sopha asked bar manager Vince Badalementi.
"What press conference?" Badalementi joked.
The Brighton couple drove to Ann Arbor to eat a bowl of chili, drink a beer and watch the press conference introducing Jim Harbaugh as the 20th University of Michigan head football coach. Afterward, they planned to buy a Harbaugh jersey at M Den, a local store selling UM clothing and paraphernalia.
"We are so excited about Harbaugh being here," said Ann Marie Sopha. "He's a Michigan man, and he's one of the best coaches in the country."
Added Al Sopha, "He's going to bring Michigan back."
Managers of the local bar had been getting phone calls all morning to see if they were planning to broadcast the announcement that so many have been waiting for, after years of disappointment on the football field. Most of the crowd came from out of town.
Young and old erupted in applause when interim athletic director Jim Hackett introduced Harbaugh at the televised press conference.
"Woo!" many yelled, as several snapped pictures of Harbaugh on the television screen with their phones.
Tom and Joann Hartline, lifelong UM fans, drove three hours from Bridgman, on the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan, just to watch the press conference at The Arena.
"We wanted to be here," said Tom Hartline. "He's everything Michigan is. He'll bring them back right away."
Hartline admitted he blew it when he didn't buy tickets to the Wolverines' afternoon basketball game at Crisler Arena, where Harbaugh was expected to be introduced. But then his wife surprised him with tickets as they ate the bar's special sandwich of the day, the Harbaugh Club — turkey, guacamole and coleslaw with bacon, lettuce and tomato on a pretzel roll.
"It's all thanks to his son," said Joann Hartline. "He thought he should be at the game."
Darrick and Colette Deridder came to Ann Arbor from Battle Creek to have lunch before going to the basketball game. They scored tickets last week for $40 when reporters started speculating that Harbaugh might be hired and attend the game.
"It's too exciting to stay at home," said Darrick Deridder. His family has had season tickets since 1980, and he watched Harbaugh when the new coach was UM's quarterback in the mid 1980s. "The last seven years have been rough. But Jim Harbaugh has always been a winner."
Deridder's wife had only one disappointment. At the afternoon basketball game, fans were encouraged to wear khakis to support Harbaugh, since he wears them all the time.
Deridder is an accountant, and also wears khakis all the time. But on Tuesday, he wore jeans.
"I told him, 'I can't believe you are not wearing (khakis)," Colette Deridder said. "You'll finally be in style!"
Rod Rall came to Ann Arbor from Gobles, near Kalamazoo, with his daughter Hannah. They were joining his other daughter, Laura, a freshman at UM, at the basketball game.
Self-described "huge fans," they made signs to hold during the game, including one that read: "OurBaugh."
"Harbaugh is going to say something historic at that game," said Rod Rall. "You know it. He's going to fire everyone up."