Wayne Hardin, Hall of Fame Football Coach at Navy, Dies at 91


Navy Coach Wayne Hardin with quarterback Roger Staubach during the 1964 Cotton Bowl.

Associated Press

Wayne Hardin, a Hall of Fame football coach who built standout programs at the United States Naval Academy and Temple University, leading Navy to victory over Army five times in a row and Temple to its first bowl-game win, died on Wednesday in Abington, Pa. He was 91.

He died after having a stroke on Tuesday, his daughter Sheri Hardin said.

During his more than 20 years as a college coach, Hardin developed consistent winners using a multifaceted approach, even when he had stellar quarterbacks.

“What we want to achieve more than anything else is balance,” he told The New York Times in 1979.

Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots’ head coach, whose father was an assistant coach under Hardin at Navy, said that Hardin had been “very influential in my development as a coach.” Belichick said that he had also copied many of Hardin’s methods and philosophies.

“I admired his brilliant game plans that he developed for opponents with superior personnel,” Belichick, who has won five Super Bowls as a head coach, told Navy football’s website after Hardin’s death.

Hardin became Navy’s head coach after Eddie Erdelatz resigned in 1959, and he promptly led the Midshipmen to the first of five consecutive wins over Army, their archrival. The Army-Navy games were national events at the time, viewed by millions of fans on television as well as “most of the members of the presidential cabinet, four-star generals and admirals, senators, congressmen and governors,” The Times wrote in 1959.

Navy routed Army, 43-12, in the 1959 game, led by Joe Bellino, a halfback who won the Heisman Trophy the following season and later played for the Boston Patriots of the American Football League.

Hardin’s last win over Army was in 1963, when he won, 21-15, with the help of three touchdowns by fullback Pat Donnelly and the dangerous legs of his scrambling quarterback, Roger Staubach.

Staubach, who won the Heisman that year and went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League, praised Hardin on the Navy website.

“Coach Hardin was the first person to teach me how to read defenses,” Staubach said. “I was a quarterback that would pull the ball down and run at the first opportunity, but he taught me how to stay in the pocket and what to look for.”

Navy lost bowl games after the 1960 and 1963 seasons and finished 9-2 both years. In 1964, the team was plagued by injuries and went 3-6-1, including an 11-8 loss to Army that ended the streak.

Hardin, who had a 38-22-2 career record as Navy’s head coach, had differences with the school’s brass over the years. In 1962, he was criticized for using a trick play in which a player headed toward the sideline as if leaving the…

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