Michigan is officially a Nike school again, in case you haven’t heard.
And people are going pretty nuts over it, but why?
For many, the switch is symbolic of a new era in athletics in Ann Arbor. Michigan’s struggles have been well-documented over the last eight seasons and while it is unfair to blame Adidas, they became a symbol for a lot of negative times for the fanbase.
The Adidas era coincided with a coaching change that saw Rich Rodriguez take the reigns with the football program. Fans did not like the “sun” shade of Michigan’s iconic maize and many of the alternate jersey designs that were featured over the years.
Former athletic director David Brandon was also synonymous with the Adidas era. He was not solely responsible for the gear, but he was very hands on with the designs of the alternate jerseys, among other major mistakes he made along the way.
We do not need to rehash all of the negative things that happened when Michigan was an Adidas school, but in the aftermath of the Brandon era and in the final days of Brady Hoke, this was a fanbase that was beaten down and desperate for a taste of the past.
Then they hired Jim Harbaugh as the football coach and within a few months, U-M was a Nike school once more.
In just under two years, the university has checked off several boxes on the fans’ wish list in terms of building back to what the athletics program is expected to be. Jim Hackett, who served as interim athletic director as a bridge from Brandon to Warde Manuel, deserves a ton of credit for that.
So as you look at pictures from Sunday night’s rally at The M-Den and ask yourself, “What the heck is the big deal? They are clothes,” know that as of Aug. 1, fans feel like they have their Wolverines back again.
Michigan football is the face of the university and will of course have to win to truly seal the deal with the fanbase, but it is coming. They have the coach in place. They have the talent in place.
And now, they have the gear in place.
There is not any magic in the Nike threads as opposed to Adidas, but when you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you play good.
We’ll see how it looks when the teams hit the field.