WHEN WAYNE Hardin was a sophomore halfback/quarterback at Pacific in 1946 he played for Amos Alonzo Stagg, who went into the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player and coach in the charter class of 1951.
Now, the man who became the winningest football coach in Temple history will soon join him.
"How many people ever get to say that?" the 86-years-young Hardin asked yesterday from Florida, where he spends his time with his wife Jane when they're not at home in Oreland. "I've been on the list for a long time, haven't quite made it. I got a call from my captain, Tom Lynch, from our 1963 team at Navy, letting me know it was going to happen.
"Then Roger Staubach called me the next morning to verify it. Then [just-retired Temple athletic director] Bill Bradshaw called. So I was stunned and pleasantly surprised. I just hope that everybody, and I do mean everybody, that supported us down through time, including the fans, are as happy about this as I am."
And really, how many inductees get to say that a Heisman Trophy winner was one of the first guys to offer their congratulations?
Hardin is the third Temple coach to be so honored, joining Ray Morrison (1940-48, class of 1954) and Glenn S. "Pop" Warner (1933-38, class of '51). No Owls players are enshrined. Paul Palmer, the 1986 Heisman runner-up, was among the other 81 FBS names on this year's ballot.
The official National Football Foundation ceremony is Dec. 10 in New York. Hardin went into Temple's Hall of Fame in 1994.
"This is a great day for Temple," interim AD Kevin Clark said in a statement. "[Hardin's] a hall-of-fame person [as well]."
In 13 seasons with the Owls starting in 1970, Hardin went 80-52-3. The 1974 District II coach of the Year, his teams won 14 straight games in 1973-74. But he's best remembered for 1979, when the Owls closed out a 10-2 season by beating California in the Garden State Bowl, the program's lone bowl win until 2 years ago. That team finished in the national rankings, something that hasn't happened before or since.
Before coming to North Broad Street, Hardin was 38-22-2 at Navy.
"I know this sounds trite," he said, "but I never went into coaching to be in the Hall of Fame or to win games per se. I went into it to help kids. All the moves I made [growing up], there was always a coach there to help me.
"I wanted them to have fun, be good at something. I wanted them to know the thrill of winning and the pain of losing. Just grow up and be mature. Almost every kid I ever coached, the best thing I ever heard from any of them was that they played better than they thought they could. They got everything out of it.
"I wish I could break [this award] and give every one of them a piece. Because it's the individuals, the kids, that I remember. If you have memories like that, then it was all worth it. There's so many of them that I feel that way about. If you get good kids, you usually win. We recruited parents first, then academics and then talent. A lot of them were cut from the same mold. It's like they could have all been brothers. And they're all such a big part of me."