College Football Hall of Fame coach and former coach of the Navy Midshipmen, Wayne Hardin died Wednesday after suffering a stroke on Tuesday.
Hardin was coach at Navy from 1959-64 and led the team to two AP top-five finishes.
In 1961, Hardin led the team to the 1961 Orange Bowl and 1964 Cotton Bowl. During his time at Navy, he coached former Heisman trophy winners Joe Bellino and Roger Staubach.
During the 1963 season, his team finished second in the AP poll and lost the de facto national title game to No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
Hardin went 38-22-2 during his tenure at Navy. He later became coach at Temple and went 80-52-3 in 13 seasons making him the winningest coach in school history.
Hardin finished his coaching career with a 118-74-5 record and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
“The Naval Academy is heartbroken over the loss of one of our icons,” said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk in a press release. “He was not only a great coach, but a special person that had the respect of everyone who played for him and knew him as a great leader. Coach Hardin set the bar in how we measure excellence at the Naval Academy. He has remained close to the Naval Academy and many of his former players through the course of his retirement. We have shared some special moments with him over the years when we have invited back some of his greatest Navy teams. He will truly be missed, but Wayne Hardin will never ever be forgotten by the Navy family.”
“Coach Hardin was such a big part of all of our lives,” Roger Staubach told navysports.com. “He did a great job of staying in touch with not only all of his former Navy players, but his Temple players as well and we are all going to miss him. Coach Hardin was the first person to teach me how to read defenses. 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. He was one of the true innovators of the game of football.”
“I spent many hours in Coach Hardin’s home when he coached at Navy and was extremely close with his family,” New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, whose father, Steve, served as an assistant for Hardin told navysports.com. “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.”
“Along with my dad, Coach Hardin was very influential in my development as a coach and I copied many of his coaching methods and philosophies,” Belichick added. “Over the past 15 years, I spoke regularly with Coach Hardin and his observations, suggestions and critiques were most helpful to me personally and he constantly stimulated by preparation and decision-making. I cherished my opportunity to converse with a Hall of Fame coach. He was one of the pillars and true innovators in college football. Coach Hardin’s football knowledge stretched almost a century, from Amos Alonzo Stagg and the development of the forward pass to our current game and he was on top of all of it. I am so proud of his words to me after Super Bowl LI, the last football game he watched. He called it ‘the greatest game I ever saw.'”