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Michigan unveils its new clothes with downtown Ann Arbor party

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- They lined up for T-shirts.

All day, Michigan fans stood in line for T-shirts. And when the sun went down, they chanted and painted their faces and counted down the last few seconds like it was New Year’s Eve for T-shirts, ones with a tiny, lopsided parabola in the corner instead of a striped triangle.

Michigan athletics officially switched from an Adidas school to a Nike and Jumpman brand school Monday. To commemorate the change, the school closed a city block in downtown Ann Arbor and threw a party before opening the official retail store, The M Den, at midnight for those who couldn't wait any longer.

"I've lived 52 years, a lot of them right here in Ann Arbor," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said to a sea of fans recording on their cell phones. "I've never seen anything like this."

This is the new look for Michigan, and it's not just the clothes. No moment is too small for an extravaganza -- not national signing day, not high school camps, not new T-shirts. A football fan base starved for something to celebrate has raced after Harbaugh, the ringleader who spiked the punch at a stuffy dinner party and turned it into a rave. Call it outlandish, over-the-top or ostentatious, but no one in college football is having more fun than Michigan right now.

Dominic Carter, a Wolverines fan, left his home in Columbus, Ohio, before sunrise Sunday morning. He was first outside the store at 8:20 a.m. -- nearly 16 hours before he was allowed inside to purchase a couple T-shirts. The line behind him eventually stretched more than two blocks and stayed that long until well after midnight.

The M Den staff had arrived a couple hours before Carter for the final big push on a planning process that started more than a year ago. Owner Scott Hirth said 60 staffers and several extra cash registers were brought in to handle the rush. (Hirth told ESPN's Darren Rovell that the average order was for $300.) He said he received calls from Florida, Hawaii and China in recent months to ask about attending Sunday night's event.

Outside, the marching band and a DJ took turns entertaining the fans. Heisman winner Desmond Howard, Fab Five member Jimmy King and former All-American LaMarr Woodley spoke to give their official approval of the new gear.

"For Michigan, this is the way we do things," athletic director Warde Manuel told a crowd of reporters Sunday night while wearing a backward Jumpman baseball hat. "It's great to see."

The whole thing was built to be shared in bite-sized social media slivers. Fans posed for pictures with a life-sized bobblehead of Charles Woodson and 6-foot-tall logos. At around 11:30 p.m., several members of the football team took the stage to Snapchat a photo of themselves in front of the crowd, which of course was Snapchatting right back at them.

While many college coaches spent the first couple hours of August retweeting prospects, thanks to new NCAA rules, Michigan busied itself by making its own spectacle on Twitter. The school, once again led by Harbaugh, knows how to make a splash and where to make it in 2016.

Not even a threat to the Wolverines' treasured maize and blue color scheme could diminish the excitement. The shade of yellow Michigan will wear is officially called "amarillo" by Nike. Michigan picked the color because it most resembled maize, and that's what the school will continue to call it, but the official product name in Nike's catalog is amarillo (the Spanish word for "yellow").

In year's past, heads might have exploded over this potential assault on Michigan's well-guarded history. In 2016, it was hardly a blip on the radar. Most folks were too busy celebrating to notice.