Former Temple Owls and Navy Midshipmen coach Wayne Hardin died at the age of 91 on Wednesday. The College Football Hall of Famer suffered a stroke on Tuesday and passed away just days after being with the Owls during spring practices.
Hardin spent 13 seasons as head coach for Temple, leading them to an 80-52-3 record from 1970-82. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013, and remains Temple's all-time winningest coach.
"Wayne Hardin is synonymous with Temple Football," Temple athletic director Pat Kraft said in a release. "He was a giant of a man who touched so many lives not only as a Hall of Fame coach but as an ambassador for the university. His love for life was only surpassed by his love for his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time."
While Hardin never coached again after announcing his resignation following the last game of the '82 season, he remained in touch with the Temple program. He had a close relationship with former coach Matt Rhule, who called Hardin "a tremendous mentor and friend to me."
He led Temple to a win in the 1979 Garden State Bowl, the program's only bowl win until the 2011 victory over Wyoming in the New Mexico bowl. Current Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians replaced Hardin at Temple, and the seven coaches since Hardin have combined for only 133 wins.
Before becoming the coach at North Broad, Hardin became an assistant coach at Navy in 1955. He took over as head coach in 1959 and spent six seasons at the helm, where he went 38-22-2. He also produced two Heisman Trophy winners while at Navy - Joe Bellino in 1960 and Roger Staubach in 1963.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Wayne Hardin's family," said Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. "Many generations have been blessed by his powerful influence both on the field and off."
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick also had a close relationship with Hardin, whose father Steve served as an assistant under Hardin.
"I spent many hours in Coach Hardin's home when he coached at Navy and was extremely close with his family," said Belichick, "I learned so much from watching Coach Hardin coach the Navy teams and I continued to follow his career at Temple and I admired his brilliant game plans that he developed for opponents with superior personnel."
Hardin coached some great players in addition to Staubach and Bellino. Steve Joachim won the 1974 Maxwell Award, and Joe Klecko, Randy Grossman, Kevin Ross and Bill Singletary all played in the NFL. He also led Navy to the 1963 National Championship against Texas.
Between Navy and Temple, Hardin's career coaching record was 118-74-5. He was inducted into Temple's Hall of Fame in 1994, and in an era where the coaching carousel is never ending, it's hard to imagine another coach supplanting him as Temple's all-time leader in wins. R.I.P. Coach.