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Michigan vs. Everybody” knit hats, ball caps, sweatshirts and T-shirts were flying off the racks and plucked off a table near the University of Michigan campus on a sun-splashed Sunday.
Michelle Guy, who graduated from the school in 1974, drove nearly an hour from her home in suburban Detroit hoping to buy a long sleeve, blue shirt with Michigan vs. Everybody printed in maize. Alas, it was already sold out.
“I feel like the team isn’t getting credit for how good it is,” she said. “And even if we cheated, I don’t think Jim Harbaugh knew.”
Amid a sign-stealing saga that led to the Big Ten suspending Harbaugh for three games, Michigan is fighting back on the field and social media, in court and with merchandise that puts some money in players’ pockets.
The second-ranked Wolverines headed into a fateful week preparing to play at Maryland on Saturday, a day after a hearing in a legal battle to free Harbaugh, and a defiant swagger built on their growing belief that it’s them against the world.
When interim coach Sherrone Moore showed up to fill in for Harbaugh at Penn State, he was wearing a black shirt that read: Michigan vs. Everybody.
When Blake Corum ran for a 30-yard touchdown that gave Michigan a 15-point lead late in its win, he tapped his right wrist, cupped his right ear and held up three fingers.
Corum’s celebration trolled Manny Diaz, the Nittany Lions defensive coordinator who mocked Michigan’s sign-stealing scheme a few days before the matchup.
“Those are the signals for get there early, be loud, especially on third down,” Diaz said after tapping his wrist, cupping his ear and putting three fingers up on Penn State’s football social media account.
Shortly after the Wolverines beat the Nittany Lions 24-15 on Saturday, Michigan wrote “lol” in a reply to Penn State on social media and reshared the post that closed with Diaz.
The Wolverines were so in control of their first game this season against a ranked opponent that J.J. McCarthy didn’t throw a pass for the last 2 1/2 quarters.
“With one of the best offensive lines in the country and obviously two of the best backs in the country, we just got to take what they give us,” McCarthy said. “We adapted, we adjusted and we kept rolling.”
Michigan (10-0, 7-0, No. 3 CFP) is expected to become the first college football program with 1,000 wins against the Terrapins (6-4, 3-4 Big Ten) to set up a showdown with rival and third-ranked Ohio State on Nov. 25 at the Big House.
The game will likely have a spot in the conference championship game and an expected bid to the College Football Playoff at stake.
The Wolverines are also competing with the conference. A judge scheduled a hearing for Friday in response to the school’s attempt to at least temporarily lift the Big Ten’s penalty for a sign-stealing scheme.
The Wolverines wore “Michigan vs. Everybody” gear before and after playing Penn State, and their fired-up fans are buying similar merchandise.
Players on the team along with hundreds of student-athletes from other sports are getting a cut of the proceeds. Since the merchandise became available on Friday, more than 10,000 items were purchased in Ann Arbor and online by customers around the world.
“In 48 hours, more than $50,000 was raised by the Michigan Vs. Everybody initiative,” said Jared Wangler, founder of Valiant Management Group, one of three businesses that teamed up to sell the merchandise. “It’s exciting because this is a real, revenue-sharing opportunity for about 400 Michigan student-athletes who opted in to the program with an additional royalty going to players on the football team.”