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Given that Jim Harbaugh might've been the biggest personality on Utah's campus on Thursday night, it seems there was only room enough for one of him.
Both Utah athletics and Fox Sports marketing officials confirmed that Utah asked that Fox Sports 1's khaki-wrapped bus, inspired by the Michigan head coach, not be parked on campus.
The bus has been a centerpiece of FS1's promotion of Utah-Michigan, its season opener on the channel. Wrapped in fabric representing Harbaugh's preferred style of dress complete with a blue sweater with an "M" logo, khakis, a playcard and a sharpie the bus has toured the country everywhere from Detroit to New York to Atlanta to Dallas in the two weeks leading up to the game. In tow have been five undergraduate Michigan students hired by Fox Sports to dress up as Jim Harbaugh aka "The HarBros."
Utah spokeswoman Liz Abel said "several of us in the administration" made the decision to ban the the "HarBus" well in advance of the crew's arrival in Salt Lake City. Neither coach Kyle Whittingham nor athletic director Chris Hill was involved in the decision, Abel said.
The HarBus spent the afternoon in the lot of the Grand America Hotel, greeted by a throng of maize-and-blue supporters. The promoters understood Utah's misgivings with the 45-foot Michigan advertisement, but ultimately the promotion has succeeded in the network's eyes.
"It's what everybody is talking about right now," said Brooke Faw, who has helped coordinate the tour for Bespoke Sports and Entertainment. "It's what all these people came to this hotel to see today."
While Fox Sports has clearly focused on capitalizing on Harbaugh mania, they've also attempted to spread goodwill to Utah fans by doing video bits with former Utah players Jamal Anderson and Jordan Gross. Said HarBro Thomas Cansfield: "I knew what the Dirty Bird [dance] was, but for him to actually teach it to us was pretty cool."
As expected, Utah football set an attendance record on Thursday night with 47,825 reported fans in attendance, more than 200 additional fans than last season's game against USC.
It wasn't just a big game for fan attendance: Utah athletics reported giving credentials to 200 media members and turning away many more. At least three scouts were in attendance from the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers.
Hill had said leading up to the game he expected the largest crowd in Rice-Eccles Stadium history for the game.
Freshman receiver Raelon Singleton was not suited up for the game in warmups. Singleton had been out for a significant portion of camp, though Whittingham said he was expecting Utah to get production from him this season.