In the early 1970s, then-Michigan assistant coach Jerry Hanlon penned a letter to his position group, the offensive linemen, that he shared with them on the eve of the Michigan-Ohio State game.
And then, the defensive linemen asked Hanlon, an Ohio native, to share the letter with them, and then the domino effect – all the players wanted the letter.
Since then, Hanlon, now 86 and a regular in Schembechler Hall, has written a motivational letter to the Michigan players ahead of the annual regular-season finale against the Wolverines' archrivals.
Hanlon joined Bo Schembechler's Michigan staff in 1969, coming with him from Miami (Ohio), and was the only assistant who coached all 21 seasons with Schembechler. His last season on the staff was 1991, then under coach Gary Moeller, but he continued to write a letter to the Wolverines during Ohio State week through the last four coaches -- Moeller, Lloyd Carr, Rich Rodriguez, and this week he shared a letter to the players of coach Jim Harbaugh, Hanlon's former charge as quarterbacks coach.
Hanlon allowed The Detroit News to share his letter to this year's team. It concludes with a thank you to the players for "allowing this old coach to share the building with you."
Here is Hanlon's letter:
To the 2015 Wolverines,
As the Ohio State game approaches a thousand thoughts race through the mind of this old coach. Memories of euphoric victories and depressive losses intertwine. But, most of all, to have been a small part of this historic series gives me a sense of pride.
I was part of that 1969 Ohio State game which has been compared to your game vs. the Buckeyes this year. While last week's results have changed things, the championship and many goals are still possible with a victory. Just as yours, our 1969 team stubbed its toe a couple of times and lost to Michigan State leading up to our season finale. Many felt we had little or no chance to compete against OSU. How then did we win?
It was not just what occurred on the field that day. It was the result of the efforts that were expended during the offseason. The efforts in the weight room, in the classroom and on the practice field. It was trusting new coaches and new ideas. Does this sound familiar to you?
You too have come to this point. You have grown as a team. But, most of all, I hope you have grown as a man so that you can be counted on to give your very best, not only in this game, but to your friends and family.
I wish I had some magic words for you that would bring a victory. But, I've found words don't make winners. Your actions on and off the field produce winners. If you believe and live the principles Coach Harbaugh and his coaches have been teaching then you will be a winner, no matter what the scoreboard reads.
Thanks for allowing this old coach to share the building with you. Thanks for saying "Hi" and know I'll be with you, as will all "Michigan Men."
Good Luck, Go Blue and God Bless!
Coach Jerry Hanlon