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Donuts & DJs: Morning on campus

2/18/2012

ANN ARBOR, Mich. --DJ Dinero blasted the Cupid Shuffle over his loudspeakers, music heard clear across the Crisler Center parking lot early Saturday morning. Dinero had been playing music under a makeshift tent for about an hour, and students who normally would be just wandering in from their night out or in the midst of multiple hours of sleep were instead doing something else.

They were dancing, almost 50 of them.

This was entertainment at the top of the Mortenson Family Plaza, a way to stay warm Saturday morning as they waited in line for wristbands allowing them into Saturday's College GameDay morning show and later into Crisler Center as No. 6 Ohio State plays No. 19 Michigan at 9 p.m. on Saturday night.

Almost 14 hours before the game tipped and these students didn't care. They turned it into a party atmosphere instead.

"Sleep," one student was overheard saying," is for the weak."

The first batch of students, between 15 and 20 of them, showed up at 11 p.m., walked up the steps leading into Michigan Stadium, turned left and waited outside the entrance to the Crisler on the Plaza. They sacrificed a night of partying, an evening of going out with their friends to sit, stand and, in theory, sleep out in the cold.

"Totally worth it, though," said Jarrett McFeters, the third person in line. "Totally is."

He showed up before almost everyone else, beaten only by two freshmen. Another group of people at 2:30 a.m., including the 75th person in line, Nilesh Dagli. By the time DJ Dinero, Michigan director of basketball operations Travis Conlan and others arrived around 6 a.m., the line snaked from the entrance to Crisler through the Plaza, down the Michigan Stadium steps and almost to the entrance of the Jack Roth club seats, approximately 500 people start to finish.

At a school which had little student support as recently as three seasons ago, this was a marked change mirroring the turnaround the Michigan basketball team has had.

Part of it had to do with College GameDay's arrival in Ann Arbor, but even Michigan coach John Beilein didn't know what to expect when he showed up with his wife, Kathleen, at 6:45 a.m. to hand out donuts from Washtenaw Dairy and hot chocolate from Panera Bread.

He arrived to cheers of his own name "John Bee-Line, John Bee-Line" and reveled in the atmosphere, thanking students almost one by one as he walked through the line. When he was at West Virginia, occasionally he'd buy pizza for the waiting students before a game and show up to thank them.

Something like this, though, where students waited all night to get inside a gymnasium to secure tickets for one of his teams to play -- he couldn't remember anything like that.

"They did a great job setting this up," Beilein said as he finished passing out donuts.

His appearance didn't come without hazard. He had hot chocolate spilled all over one of pant legs. He also stood at the top of the Plaza, overlooking the rest of the crowd that showed up because of what he rebuilt over the past five seasons, to thank them.

For showing up. For supporting his team.

He wasn't done, though. He stopped and posed for pictures as the sun came up -- including with the initial group of 15-20 students who had been there, by then, for almost eight hours.

Then Beilein smiled. He raised his hand and pointed his finger. And he led all of those students who waited out in the cold inside.