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The return of Jim Harbaugh has Michigan excited

Jim Harbaugh, the former Wolverines quarterback, has returned to Ann Arbor to revitalize the school's football program.

THE FOLKS IN Ann Arbor are all giddy over the hiring of football coach Jim Harbaugh. After years of mediocrity, which is not tolerated in the Big House, and losing 10 of its last 11 games to hated rival Ohio State and six of seven to in-state rival Michigan State, Michigan is agog with the signing of alum Harbaugh.

So caught up in the Harbaugh hoopla, the Detroit Free Press on Monday ran a photo of Jim's brother John, the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, by mistake - on its front page no less.

The school is so caught up in Harbaugh mania that his No. 4 jersey, which he wore for the Wolverines while finishing third in the Heisman voting in 1986, were sold at yesterday's Michigan-Illinois basketball game. For the record, the Wolverines, who have struggled this season, beat Illinois in their Big Ten opener, 73-65, in overtime. Harbaugh was in attendance and is being credited with pulling off the win. He's 1-0 and hasn't coached a game yet.

And there's no official word yet from the JC Penney's, Macy's or Von Maur department stores in the Briarwood Mall on whether the stores have seen an increase in the sales of khaki pants over the last 48 hours.

Praising the press

Through all the hysteria, Harbaugh, during his introductory news conference, made a point of praising a university student reporter.

Alejandro Zuniga, of the Michigan Daily, showed up at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport when the new coach arrived on Monday night. The young man talked to Harbaugh and he and fellow Daily reporters followed Harbaugh to his hotel. A photo shot by Zuniga was widely used by media outlets throughout the country.

Harbaugh asked Zuniga to stand up and be recognized during the press gathering and added, "That's a go-getter," the coach said. "Heck of a job."

Heck of a job by Harbaugh, too.