Michigan officially introduced Warde Manuel as the next athletic director as Jim Harbaugh interrupted the press conference for a quick hug.

Michigan officially introduced Warde Manuel as the next athletic director as Jim Harbaugh interrupted the press conference for a quick hug.

The courtship was quick, the decision a mere formality as Michigan officially introduced Warde Manuel as the 12th athletic director in the University's history.

Initially approached in early December, simply to gage interest, Manuel left little doubt about his feelings toward the Wolverines.

(The search committee) reached out to see if I had interest in the position and I laughed when they asked that question, like, are you really asking me if I have interest in being the Michigan A.D.?" Manuel said. 

"They go, 'yeah, we just need to hear the answer,' and I go, 'hell yeah.'"

For the former Michigan football player under Bo Schembechler, Manuel's journey back to Ann Arbor comes after spending the previous four years in charge of the athletic department at Connecticut.

Signing a five year contract that will be worth just shy of five million dollars when all is said and done, Manuel made it clear he's in this for the long haul.

"There's no better job in the country than Michigan, in my mind," Manuel said. "There are a lot of great places and I've had the opportunity to go to great places. But if President Schlissel wanted to offer me a 20 year contract I (would sign it). I'm looking to be here for a while. 

"I think more importantly I think for the staff, the coaches and the student-athletes, my hope is that I am here for a while and can provide that stability to them and to our programs. I look forward to serving the University as long as Michigan will have me."

While Jim Hackett will ultimately be responsible for the courtship and hiring of Jim Harbaugh, Manuel will be tasked with keeping the momentum going following a very successful 10-3 season in Harbaugh's first year.

Fortunately for Michigan, Manuel and Harbaugh go back a long way, looking to expand on and enhance that pre-existing relationship as colleagues moving forward.

"He was my captain my first year," Manuel said. "He went through the same thing I went through. He went through it for five years and I went through it for three and a half because of my injury. 

"I know his love and his passion for success for Michigan football, and he should know mine without saying the words to each other. It's embedded in who we are. He's the ultimate competitor, I am, although I could never tackle him as a freshman or even get close to him."

With that, Harbaugh decided to put his hands on Manuel, stepping out from the crowd.

"I just want to give you a hug," Harbaugh said. 

Giving Manuel a hug, Harbaugh also passed along a No. 79 Michigan jersey with Manuel's name on the back.

"I used to be able to fit into this," Manuel said laughing. "No comments from Jamie Morris back there."

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