Why I am a Michigan fan: Tales of Uncle Jerry and Bo

No college football team draws more fans to its home games than the University of Michigan. The school has led the nation in home attendance every season except one since 2003, backing up Michigan Stadium’s moniker — the Big House.

There hasn’t been an official home crowd of less than 100,000 at the Big House since 1975, and last season the Wolverines averaged more than 110,000 fans, even though official capacity is 107,601. What draws those fans to Ann Arbor for games and causes them to bleed maize and blue?

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Bo Schembechler (kneeling, right) brought several assistants with him to Michigan in 1969, including Jerry Hanlon (far left, kneeling).

When Bo Schembechler arrived in Ann Arbor from Miami University in Ohio to take over the Michigan football program in 1969, he brought along with him an assistant coach named  Jerry Hanlon. For the next 21 years, Hanlon was Schembechler’s right-hand man as the Wolverines won 194 games and 13 Big Ten championships. He coached the offensive line for many of those seasons, but he also coached quarterbacks for a stretch, including current Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

That relationship was the root of Shaun Graham’s love of Michigan. Graham is Hanlon’s nephew, and though he still lives in Southwest Ohio, he bleeds maize and blue. Shaun’s family would travel north for games, and family functions were a chance to catch up with Uncle Jerry and hear the stories he had to tell about Schembechler and the Wolverines.

The Green Bay Packers once tried to entice Hanlon to leave Michigan but he stayed with Schembechler. Hanlon is a member of Miami’s Cradle of Coaches Association, and he still lives in Ann Arbor. He’s still telling tales of Bo, and giving his nephew a reason to say “Go Blue!”

By Shaun Graham

Well, there were two young coaches in Oxford, Ohio, say 1968 or so.

Michigan-Michigan football-Bo Schembechler-Jerry Hanlon
Shaun Graham is the nephew of former Michigan assistant coach Jerry Hanlon. (Courtesy Shaun Graham)

One being Bo and one being my uncle Jerry Hanlon. As we all know, they headed to Ann Arbor in 1969 and the next 20 or so years became an amazing thing to witness. I could spend hours talking about the countless games my whole family from Cincinnati would trek north 4 hours to witness the spectacle of the Big House.

Uncle Jerry’s stories about Bo firing him countless times. Meeting [Dan] Dierdorf, Anthony Carter and a QB named Harbaugh that was coached by Jerry. To this day when I watch Uncle Jerry speak at various functions and he says “I am a Michigan man,” it still brings me to tears.

Being from Ohio, well you understand …

Go Blue forever!!!

The post Why I am a Michigan fan: Tales of Uncle Jerry and Bo appeared first on Land of 10.

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