Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh stood at midfield prior to his team's season opener against Hawaii and, for the first time in who knows how long, wasn't one of the three most accomplished sportsmen within shouting distance.
Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter and Charles Woodson all congregated on the Michigan sideline in the minutes leading up to a 63-3 victory over Hawaii for No. 7 Michigan. It was an appropriate send-off to a headline-grabbing, star-studded offseason for Harbaugh and the Wolverines.
"I mean Michael Jordan is like the GOAT -- like the actual GOAT," said linebacker Mike McCray, the team's leading tackler Saturday afternoon. "I think we were kind of starstruck, maybe. Just having him there was like a boost in confidence."
Best photo bomb ever? I think so. Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Charles Woodson, LaMarr Woodley (me). pic.twitter.com/nE6xLHi5C8— Kenny Allen (@KennyAllen91) September 4, 2016
Jordan served as the team's honorary captain, as Michigan became the first college football team to wear uniforms with the NBA great's iconic Jumpman logo on them. Jordan was honored before the game and the marching band formed a Jumpman logo during its halftime show. Jordan spoke with the team for 45 minutes Friday night, sharing stories about his first college game and some of the other biggest moments of his career.
"Michael Jordan was fantastic with the team," Harbaugh said. "It warmed my heart when he talked about every single day trying to be better than the day before. He talked about a lot of things, talking about pressure and pressure moments. What he leaned on and what he thought made him effective in those moments. He talked about being a great teammate."
Those are messages that the Michigan players have heard from their coaches throughout the month of August while practicing 21 days in a 22-day period to prepare for the upcoming season.
"They were listening a lot better to Michael Jordan than they were to me," Harbaugh said. "He was good. He was loose and funny with them. They couldn't get enough. It was a real honor to have him share our sideline."
Jordan took some questions from the players, and the first to raise his hand was true freshman running back Chris Evans. Not one to miss out on many opportunities, Evans ended up leading the Wolverines with 112 rushing yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut. He was one of only two Michigan freshmen to break the 100-yard mark in a season opener, joining Chris Perry in 2000.
Evans said he was a little bit sick during camp, so he wanted to ask Jordan how he gathered strength for the famous "flu game" in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals.
"He told me the love for the game (wins) over all the sickness and everything else," Evans said. "He did it for his teammates."
Woodson, who won a Heisman Trophy at Michigan six months after Jordan's flu game, is an ambassador of the Jordan Brand and flipped the coin for the pregame coin toss Saturday. Jeter, a Michigan native and well-documented Wolverines fan, was in town for an event Friday night where he, Woodson and former Michigan All-American LaMarr Woodley talked to high school athletes about how to train.
Harbaugh has spent his first couple seasons back in Ann Arbor constantly one-upping himself. So, how will the Wolverines coach possibly top that lineup? It won't be easy, but Tom Brady is already on the guest list later this month. It will be fun to see what else Harbaugh has up his Jumpman sleeves.