Wayne Hardin

Wayne Hardin, winningest coach in Temple history, dies at 91

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Wayne Hardin, winningest coach in Temple history, dies at 91

Wayne Hardin, the winningest coach in Temple football history, has died at age 91.

The school's athletic department Wednesday announced the death of Hardin after he suffered a major stroke Tuesday, just three days after taking part in the Owls' alumni festivities during spring football practice.

Hardin spent 13 seasons (1970-82) at the helm of the Owls, leading them to an 80-52-3 record in that span. Those 80 wins at Temple surpass the likes of Pop Warner, Bruce Arians, Al Golden and Matt Rhule, the latter of whom was very close to Hardin. Rhule and Hardin were known to stay in touch regularly via email. Rhule on numerous occasions has spoken publicly about how much of a mentor Hardin was to him.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is also known to consider Hardin as a heavy influence on his career.

Hardin, a Smackover, Arkansas, native, who played his college ball for Amos Alonzo Stagg at the College of the Pacific, came to North Broad Street in 1970 and led the independent Owls to a 7-3 record. The success of the program under Hardin would only grow from there as he led the Owls on a school-record 14-game winning streak that stretched across 1973 and 1974.

His most successful team at Temple came in 1979, when the Owls went 10-2, setting the then-school-record for wins in a season. That team was ranked as high as 17th in the AP poll that year. It was the first time the Owls had ever been ranked in any wire service poll. The Owls also beat California in that year's Garden State Bowl for the program's first-ever bowl game victory.

"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."

Prior to coaching at Temple, Hardin spent six seasons (1959-64) as head coach at the Naval Academy, where he coached Heisman winners Joe Bellino (1960) and Roger Staubach (1963).

Between Navy and Temple, Hardin's career coaching record was 118-74-5.

Hardin was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013, becoming only the third Owl ever to earn that honor.