Inside there was an important press conference, but it was outside that was the most telling. Dozens of Michigan fans had their noses pressed up against the glass of the jam-packed Junge Center trying to get a glimpse at the man of the hour.

Inside the glass, James Joseph Harbaugh stood behind the podium with the sports world watching, donning a suit (perhaps the last time we’ll see that), a Michigan tie and a block ‘M’ pin. Most notable of all, though, he wore an ear-to-ear grin on his face. The elation in the room was palpable.

Smiles, clapping and laughter — everything the 2014 season lacked — filled the press conference. Stories of the past were interspersed throughout his statements. Jack Harbaugh and Lloyd Carr did their best Bo Schembechler impressions after the media began to clear out. It was a light-hearted, family-filled affair that had Michigan fans around the country united in excitement and counting down the days until football season (246 to be exact).

The billboards on US-23 and I-94 read, “Harbaugh? Hail Yeah!” and “We Bo-lieve again! Thanks Jim Harbaugh!” and the Bank of Ann Arbor’s read, “The Team, the team, the coach.” They graced the highways before the man even stepped foot back in the state.

The announcement that Tuesday’s 3 p.m. basketball game against Illinois sold out days in advance of the signing in anticipation of a possible introduction showed the excitement was legitimate.

The recruits taking to social media to express interest in a program they didn’t give much thought to last week was overwhelming. All the signs point to football gaining the glory it has long missed.

And all of it is real, every last second of it because Jim Harbaugh, the savior of Michigan football, has arrived and he appears to be staying for the long haul.

And while he’s humbly passing on the ‘Messiah’ title fans have given him, it won’t change how the Michigan community sees him. Even John Beilein said Monday that the hire helps him with recruiting. Lloyd Carr said after that he couldn’t recall a time when the excitement was as widespread as this.

The hire put football back in its rightful place on Michigan’s campus — back on top.

The nightmare of the past seven years is officially over.

No more concerns over the next coach of the Wolverines. No more fears of retaining recruiting commitments. No more free tickets for the purchase of cokes. No more lack of communication on the sidelines. No more sitting on the outside looking in during bowl season.

Fans can (and should) thank Beilein’s basketball program for taking the reigns over with care these last few years. The NCAA Tournament runs, the National Championship appearance and the Player of the Year honors were all memorable. Thanks John, but Michigan football can take it from here.

And everyone that may argue that football has to earn its way back into the hearts of the Wolverine faithful should look no further than Michigan’s other two big sports.

At the GLI championship Monday night for hockey Joe Louis Arena erupted in “we got Harbaugh” chants after the final whistle blew.

In anticipation of Tuesday’s pedestrian basketball game with the Fighting Illini, tickets skyrocketed in price late last week when speculation ran rampant that Harbaugh would make his first public appearance on campus at halftime.

An over 400 percent increase in price was because of a speculation that a football coach (excuse me, the football coach) would be present at halftime.

Football is life for Wolverines and they finally have reasons to match Harbaugh’s $5 million-dollar smile.

Michigan without a respectable football program is like Thanksgiving without turkey. It lacks its identity.

But Harbaugh at the helm changes that. Recruits want to think twice about the school they’ve given their words to. Coaches are turning down other jobs in anticipation of getting a spot on Harbaugh’s staff. Current players can’t hide the smiles.

“(Getting Harbaugh,) that’d be the home run,” said redshirt junior center Jack Miller. “I knew it was going to be something special if we got it done. Kudos to Jim Hackett for doing that.

“We hit the home run everyone was looking for.”

So the Michigan community feels right again. Order has been restored because Michigan football is back.

You feel that? It’s Michigan fans across the country popping champagne and ironing khakis. It’s East Lansing and Columbus quaking. Because The Wolverines are back and they’re not going away.

So at the end of the press conference when someone yelled, “Who’s got it better than us?” to which Harbaugh replied, “Nobody!” it felt right.

Dettelbach can be reached at or on Twitter @asdettel

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