Ann Arbor – New Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh met his players on Tuesday before being formally introduced at a press conference.
Well, sort of.
Harbaugh spoke to them via conference call, because students are on break until next week. But several players who live nearby decided to see their new coach in person.
During his news conference, Harbaugh told humorous anecdotes and kept things light for the most part.
"I'm excited – he seems to relate to a younger crowd," center Jack Miller said. "First impression, he's funny. He has a great sense of humor."
Their previous coach, Brady Hoke, was fired Dec. 2 after four seasons. The Wolverines were 5-7 this year.
"Our whole team had a great relationship with Coach Hoke, and we loved him, he was a great person, a great coach for all of us," said quarterback Shane Morris. "Over the month, it was weird not having coaches, not having a set schedule, something we're not used to. We all stayed close together. We had team-led workouts when we were still here. Now we're just very excited to have a new coach and get back to work and win."
Harbaugh, who spent the last four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, has a name that carries national prominence, and the players said that while Michigan certainly has name recognition, Harbaugh returning to his alma mater raises that level.
"Harbaugh's a big name around the world, and especially in Ann Arbor, and having him as our head coach, it really magnifies everything," said Morris, who will be a junior quarterback next fall. "I can't wait. He knows how to win. That's what we're ready to do -- we're ready to win.
"We're excited to learn from him. He's the best."
Morris earlier in the week on Twitter joked about how many fake Harbaugh accounts had popped up. But it has been a national story for weeks, in part because NFL analysts continuously reported that Harbaugh would never leave the NFL for Michigan.
The players were keeping up with the news.
"That national media attention has gotten is crazy," Miller said. "It definitely has a bigger impact than a normal hiring of a coach. It brings a lot more attention to the place. It brings a lot more attention to everything and puts things on a bigger scale.
"We're not in a bowl game, but we're getting talked about like we are."
Linebacker Mario Ojemudia said that Harbaugh told the players: "Be ready to work when you get back."
Added Ojemudia, who will be a senior in the 2015 season: "I'm definitely excited. It's not a new beginning because we have the same foundation, but I'm excited to play football."
Ojemudia agreed with Morris that finally having a coach gives the Wolverines direction.
"I can't wait until we get our assistant coaches in and our new schemes," he said.
UM athletic director Jim Hackett, who lead the search process, kept players up-to-date on developments during the past month.
"I appreciate that he included us in the process of finding a new coach," Ojemudia said. "We had meetings where we could brainstorm and he was giving us updates and where they were in the process.
"Our AD assured us he was going to get the best coach he could, so we had confidence in him. He definitely got the best person for the job."