Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 37 of 163

36 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW Hanlon boys. Their mother, a strong Catho- lic, wanted them there to start the post-high school journey, even though they all eventu- ally transferred. Hanlon played on the freshman football and basketball teams, before transferring to Miami. He spent a semester at his new school, before family issues forced him to drop out and get a job for two years. Before he got back, Uncle Sam came call- ing. Drafted by the U.S. Army, Hanlon went through basic training in Camp Breckin- ridge, Ky., before attending counter intel- ligence school at Ft. Holabird, Md. Hanlon shipped out to Frankfort, Ger- many, circa 1951, doing extensive surveil- lance work and discovering what he did not want to pursue as a career. "I hated sitting down and writing reports … typing them up and getting them out," he said. "I had been in pre-law, and I made up my mind. I said, I am not going to be a law- yer. If you have to do this in this situation, when you get into law, you have to do this twice as much." His travels took him to Sweden, Italy, France and Belgium, as well as throughout Germany. They eventually brought him back home, where he reentered Miami and made the football team. He played halfback and fullback on of- fense, safety on defense, worked as the backup placekicker and learned to hold on kicks as well. "I was not good at anything, but capable of everything, or a lot of things," he offered, with a grin. "I knew I wasn't going to be a star because of my size, so I learned to do a lot of different things as well as I possibly could. "In those days, you only took 38 on the travel squad. If you could do a lot of differ- ent things, they'd say, 'So and so is a little banged up. We could always throw Hanlon in there.' In the long run, it really helped me as a coach." It helped even more to play for the legend- ary Ara Parseghian, whom Hanlon described as a "godsend" and someone ahead of his time in terms of football strategy. Parseghian was a young coach himself and could relate to players while remain- ing a disciplinarian. Hanlon learned plenty about coaching in those days, perhaps with- out even realizing it. "Our senior year, we went undefeated," he recalled. "We could have beaten a lot of teams in the country. We were a very, very good football team." The following year, Parseghian moved up to Northwestern, on his way to an eventual high-powered spotlight at Notre Dame. He and Hanlon remain close to this day. "I still tell him I was the means for him to move up in the coaching world," Han- lon quipped. "We kid each other once in a while." Ground Floor Coaching The Michigan icon's coaching career be- gan in one of the unlikeliest fashions imag- inable. Long before Hanlon busted Bubba Paris' chops, he choreographed Kathy Wilmes' water ballet strokes. What? That's right. The Miami senior, student teaching in his old high school, acquiesced to an entreaty from a teacher to work with a promising swimmer. "She was as strong a swimmer as I've ever been around," Hanlon recalled. "She could do almost anything you could ask her." He first asked her to ditch the high board, in her routine set to music. Hanlon recounted: "I said, 'You can't con- trol how you go into the water all the time from that height. You're going from the side of the pool, so you can control exactly when you hit the water, and when you're going to come up, so you can time it to the music. "I got her doing some different strokes. I even remember the old Esther Williams, where I would have her swim and swish wa- ter around. I'd have her go to the bottom of the pool and come back up in a reverse ballet leg out of the pool." The judges raved about her first perfor- mance, and a coaching career took root. "I'm sitting in the stands while all of this is going on, and Kathy Wilmes' mother came over to my mom, who happened to be sitting there," he recalled. "She said, 'If you let your son do anything but coach, I'll never speak to you again.' That kind of indicated, that's what I'm going to have to be. I'll be a coach." He met Anne Hatfield shortly thereafter, marrying her in January 1957 and starting a journey together that lasted nearly six de- cades. Coaching-wise, that journey began at Canton Central Catholic High School, where head coach John McVay asked Hanlon to come coach. He served as an assistant there four years, before taking the head coaching position at Ursaline High in Youngstown. In doing so, he turned a stern bishop into a football booster. "I was known as a loudmouth coach," Hanlon said. "I was in the press box, and if somebody on the field during the game did something wrong, I'd holler, and they'd hear me and react. I was known as a yeller and a get-after-them type of guy. "The bishop said, 'I hope you understand that I want you to exhibit great decorum.' I said, 'Father, what you see is what you're going to get. I don't think I'll do anything to embarrass you, but …' Thank goodness I didn't." Three years later, when Hanlon moved up to St. Edward near Cleveland, that same bishop told him he'd miss Hanlon more as a teacher than a coach, a compliment he still recalls. The Holy Cross brothers worked hard to get him there, but the locals weren't so sure when St. Edward lost its first three games under Hanlon. "They were all saying, 'Go back to Youngstown!'" Hanlon recalled. "Then all of a sudden, we got it turned around. We won the last six games that year, and nobody got within 20 points of us. It became a good, good football team." It also became his lone season at the school. McVay had landed the head-coach- ing job at Dayton University, and college coaching beckoned. "I had to take a big cut in salary," Hanlon recalled. "Brother Charles Krupp said, 'I'd sit here and talk until I was blue in the face to try to get you to stay, and I'd offer you a lot more things. Matter of fact, I was going to make you athletic director and give you a car to drive. But I know that's not going to do it. You want to be a college coach.'" The Dayton staff proved strong, including future Michigan State head coach George Perles. They set about resurrecting the Day- ton program, but a year later, an opportunity

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