Mediocrity Is Not My Cup Of Tea

waynehardin

Coach Hardin during game at Temple Stadium.

The last time I saw Wayne Hardin in his official duty as Temple University head football coach we were both in a side interview room of the Andy Kerr Stadium in Hamilton, New York.

There was me, coach, and two other reporters, and it was there that he dropped his bombshell announcement that he was retiring from coaching at the all-too-young age of 55.

That came after a season-ending 24-17 loss to host Colgate, which gave the Owls a 4-6 record. It was only the third losing season for Hardin in his 13 years as head coach at Temple (he never had one in his five years at Navy), but this one stung a little bit more.

I was stunned, but it was a stunning afternoon.

“Why?” I said.

“Mediocrity is not my cup of tea,” he said.

I remembered that exchange late Thursday night after Temple’s 34-27 loss at Memphis because a 3-3 record is the definition of mediocrity.

I mentioned this quote to coach Hardin, who is now 90, two weeks ago when I caught up to him for a 45-minute talk prior to the SMU game. Since that Colgate day in 1982, I’ve spoken to him about 20 times, but the resignation day never came up.

Now, prior to SMU, it did.

 

There were some extenuating circumstances that day that made this loss more painful than some of the others. One, Colgate was then, as now, a 1-aa (FCS) team and Temple was then, as now, a FBS team. Two, and more importantly, Temple quarterback Tim Riordan completed a 31-yard pass in the corner of the end zone on the game’s last play. The Temple receiver—whose name escapes me—clearly caught the ball with both feet (you only need one) inbounds, but the home cooking got to the ref, who ruled it out. There was no replay in those days; otherwise Wayne might have been in a better post-game mood.

colgate

“The Monday after that game,” coach said two weeks ago, “the Colgate coach called me and asked if I was OK. He said, ‘You are not retiring because you lost to us?’ I said, no, I just thought it was time.”

Even though his sense of time came much earlier than other coaches who retire at ages considerably older than 55 years old. The conversation touched on a lot of topics but he told me not to quote him only on one subject and that was the proposed new stadium at Temple. He had an interesting take on it, and maybe someday he will be comfortable making it public.

Former Temple quarterback Joe Morelli accompanies coach Hardin to the games, even though Joe never played for him.

“Joe takes good care of me,” coach said.

I mentioned to Joe and coach how great it was that Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick, who never answers questions with more than one or two words, went into this long detailed answer about how Hardin’s coaching influenced his.

Hardin was thrilled many of his old Temple players get together before and after every game. “The fact that they have remained close all of these years is great,” he said. I then walked him over to where they were and he got to shake hands with many of them.

“God bless him,” former great Mark Bresani said. “In 30 years, if I’m still around, I will be here, too.”

That, and the fact that Temple won, 45-20, made it a very good day.

playcalling

About as bad a series of play calls as you will ever see at TU

Ironically, while mediocrity was not Hardin’s cup of tea, it is the brand Temple is drinking now with a 3-3 record. Watching the Memphis game, I could not help but think that Hardin would have called a much better series after recovering a fumble on a kickoff at the 5. He would have probably pitched to Jahad Thomas because he always wanted to put the ball in the hands of his best player. If that did not work, he probably would have rolled P.J. Walker out a couple of times to give him a run/pass option on the goal line and create space for Temple receivers in the end zone.

There was a reason Temple had only three losing seasons in those 13 years and that reason was Wayne Hardin. Hopefully, he will keep coming to Temple games for as long as he is physically able to do so.

Related:

Hall of Fame story

Bill Belichick on coach Hardin

Lou Holtz on coach Hardin

Tuesday: 5 Reasons Why You Roll Phillip Out

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21 thoughts on “Mediocrity Is Not My Cup Of Tea

  1. Temple must meet the challenge of aligning aspirations and expectations with demonstrated performance.

    Pat Kraft articulated a vision for a Temple Football several years ago which included competing for conference championships and annual appearances in the Top 25. Shouldn’t we expect better than average results and yearly improvements in facilities, budgets, and program maturity?

    Recently both Houston and ECU fired coaches who didn’t meet their expectations.

    Temple’s weakness starts at the top with the BOT. The lack of commitment and inconsistent support are barriers to achieving internal alignment. Inconsistent and poor performance is normal for Temple. Why? Key stakeholders tolerate it.

    Most of our BOT members are politically appointed officials who have very little skin in the game. They are not accountable by any means and have a passing interests.

    There is a gigantic difference between going to the game, and going to the board room and implementing change..,

    We are fighting the wrong fight.., we should attack the BOT at the strategic level and hold them accountable more so than MR at the tactical level.

    Our program sucks because our BOT sucks.

    • KJ, some good points regarding the support from the top. Don’t think Temple will ever get like ECU and Houston with regards to coaching changes. Especially Houston, you would never see a coach let go after after back to back 7-5 seasons. I will say facilities are light years ahead of where they were when I was a student, I imagine the university could do more.

      As for the tactical level, 6 games left to set that straight for this year. This team controls it’s own destiny right now.

      One other area you didn’t mention was alumni support, not the folks who post here and the other blogs, but the majority of Temple alums in the area. Owl Club membership is pathetic for an alumni base the size of Temple. Increase that substantially and you add to the budget, most likely get a bump in season ticket sales and get a large voice to direct towards the BOT

      • It’s a chicken-or-egg situation with regards to alumni support. You get 34,005 into the stadium against a team you are a 16.5-point favorite against and you’ve got to close out the deal to keep them. The belief system with our alumni and our football program is just not there. Coming off a loss a MAC team in a bowl game, losing to a 16.5 underdog collapsed that House of Cards. Now, it’s a long road back to credibility.

    • I don’t think the BOT sees a ROI on football. When Temple hired Hardin, he had Navy consistently in the top 25 and had them as high as No. 2. Times have changed. Temple never will have the funds to hire a guy good enough to have been head coach at the No. 2 team in the country. It settles for assistant coaches.

  2. Just think what Hardin could have done with the facilities our current coaches have.

    • Hardin’s weight room was in the basement of McGonigle Hall next to the bowling alley. Geasey Field was often taken over by lax and field hockey games, so football practice had to be moved over the graveyard on the rock-strewn field across the street. The big difference between then and now is Hardin’s genius and his all-star staff of Vince Hoch, Dick Bedesem, Al Wilson, Frank Massino, Pops Cleghorn, etc. The current guys cannot hold a candle to those guys. They squeezed every last ounce of ability out of the kids they had. In their day, would have made the play calls necessary to win the Memphis game. Our play-calling from the time the score went to 10-0 to the time the game was tied at 20-20 can only be described as horrific. I thought Satterfield was bad. That was ridiculous. Only having 3 non-losing seasons in 13 years at Temple qualifies Hardin for Sainthood, not just the College Football Hall of Fame (which he is in).

      • who makes the first commitment, the alumni or the BOT? who takes the giant leap of faith? Our BOT is pathetic and should be removed if they can’t figure out how to get a stadium built on campus..,

        They have failed and continue to fail us…., BC, Rutgers, Maryland, Louisville, WVU, etc all were our peers. The BOT sat on their hands and watched the college football world pass us by., should alumni support incompetence?

        History is repeating itself…, Houston and Cincy are now on the edge of passing us by.., how long should this bullshit go on? If the BOT could ever figure out how to lead the alumni support will follow..,

        I retracted all of my pledges and will not give the university another dime absent of an articulated vision for Temple Athletics..,, throwing good money after bad is stupid.., what is one of the common definitions of insanity?

  3. I love that picture of Coach Hardin, taken at Temple Stadium in early 1970’s. Anyone want to name the two other men in the picture? This same picture appears on the Linc message boards during home games

    • I looked at that photo carefully. Don’t know how anyone can make anything out of the other two guys in it. One is half a face; the other is the back of a guy’s head. Great photo of a young and vital coach Hardin, though.

  4. I was at the Vet for Coach Hardin’s last game vs ECU. Some Owls played less-than-mediocre. Coach Hardin was much too kind.

  5. Lesson learned: if you take a torpedo, don’t abandon ship.

  6. KJ, can understand where you are coming from with regards to the contributions. For me, I still do my annual contribution, only a couple of hundred $$, but having come to TU at the middle of Hardin’s tenure, I’ve experienced good and too much bad. Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but if my Contribution and other like it can keep us from going back to the days of the post game Monkees concerts that at least is a start.

  7. Definitely is Hynoski. The other guy could be Coach John Drew. As far as the weight room goes. there was none until 1980 and all it was was a couple of benches in the football wight room. The team until then would use Pearson Hall’s weight room half a squad at the time. Like a lot of coaches of his generation, Hardin was not a weight guy and thought it made athletes muscle bound. Larry Kuharik changed his mind and that’s when weight lifting became a regular part of team activity. .

  8. All the more frustrating to watch Rutgers in the B1G. 78-0 is worse than anything that even Jerry Berndt or Ron Dickerson put us through.

    • …not saying the score is ‘ok’ by any stretch but let Flood run your program for 4 years, then play 3 of the top 5 teams in the country in year 5 and see how things turn out. Most Rutgers fans knew this year and likely next will be similar to Schiano’s first 2 years at Rutgers. Ash was left with hardly any speed and zero depth, and we’ve lost 4 starters for the year including our main offensive and special teams threat.

      I can definitely understand the flak we’re getting at the moment, but many forget it’s a marathon (unless CFB is ending this year). Many also seem to forget that 2 years ago we won a B1G-sponsored bowl game over UNC as well as the Lambert…not that any of that wins us games this year.

      Joe P.

  9. re: The Picture. The player behind Coach Hardin, who is just spoke to a few minutes ago, is Dan Lorenzini (Hyno is a good guess John). The guy to the right is yours truly.

  10. Bad sign again this week; the betting line has moved against TU,

    • The line told me something last week and this line is saying the bettors have no confidence in the Owls. We do great on defense 90 percent of the time. We get killed on the other 10 percent when something catastrophic happens like someone gets by the first wave of Owls and there’s nobody back there to tackle him. On offense, we do dumb things like call 2 quarterback draws and a pass with a first-and-goal at the five. Bettors see this stuff and shake their heads.

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