What Klecko’s induction does for Temple

Too often, the ignorant is the norm when the subject is Temple football.

Even though the Owls pretty much have had the most Group of Five players in the NFL for the last decade, occasionally you come across a comment like this yesterday on Twitter:

Very funny.


Most “regular” Joe Blow NFL fans don’t follow things like what G5 team has the most NFL players and assume that the higher-profile G5 schools dominate.

Assuming sometimes means “making an ass out of you and me” but, in this guy’s case, it was him making an ass out of himself.

Unfortunately, that’s more than the norm than the exception. At least for the general comments I see on social media.

That’s why the almost certain lock nomination of Joe Klecko into the Pro Football Hall of Fame could do more to change that than anything. Being named one of the three finalists for the Hall of Fame, that’s a Hall of a Deal for Temple and Klecko. (Joe is a virtual lock as every group of three finalist has been rubberstamped into the Hall by the Veterans committee every year since 2009.)

Klecko will almost certainly get up there and talk about the New York Jets but also expect the father who sent a son to Temple and played for the Owls to spend a significant portion of his induction speech on Temple and Wayne Hardin.

Just the other day New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick mentioned Temple. Belichick, unlike the Joe Blow fan, knows his stuff.

“I have some connections to Temple and, of course, Baylor, they have players,” Belichick said on Thursday in this article.

Belichick mentioned his following Temple through knowing two Owl head coaches, Hardin and Matt Rhule.

Bill and Ernie Adams, both New York Giants’ assistant coaches at the time, watched Hardin take apart Cal in the Garden State Bowl.

“Ernie and I were sitting up there watching the game, and on the first series of plays, one guard pulled deep, the other guard pulled short,” Belichick said. “And they just folded around to get the linebacker, but they pulled. And the two inside linebackers ran into each other. I looked at Ernie, and he looked at me . . .”

Did Temple just screw that up, they wondered?

“Four or five plays later, the same thing. The two linebackers,” Belichick clapped his hands together loudly, imitating the collision, “because they’re standing right next to each other. They went right into each other. [Temple ran] straight down to the safety for, like, 20 yards. They must’ve run that play six or seven times and it was 20 yards every time . . . At the time, I’d never seen that before. That was Hardin. That was his coaching genius.”

All of this should have changed the perception of Temple football nationwide but, sadly, it has not for the most part. Beating Penn State and playing Notre Dame to a nail-biter on national TV should have helped but it’s a constant battle for respect when you are Temple.

The fast track to changing perceptions is in the hands of the guys working out at the Edberg-Olson Complex.

Beat Duke in less than two weeks and everyone in America will know Temple has a football team and a pretty good one.

Friday: One Week Until Duke


The Gold Standard: Wayne Hardin


Steve Conjar talks to Wayne Hardin with my elbow and Mark Bresani’s back not being far away.

A few years ago, Eagles’ owner Jeffery Lurie stepped into some deep dog poop when he said his team was “the Gold Standard” of the NFL. “When I’m talking to other owners or other GMs in the league, we’re kind of the gold standard,” Lurie said on Aug. 8, 2003.


That was a year BEFORE an Eagles’ team he was owner of appeared in the Super Bowl.


Bill Belichick sent this note to coach Hardin with the game ball from Super Bowl 49.

Since the Eagles had not won the Super Bowl yet, that got some fans to thinking that there was some higher standard, like Platinum or Uranium.

The Eagles are claiming they are something they never were, or what the New England Patriots are right now.


That’s why it was fitting that the real gold standard of the NFL coaches, maybe forever (sorry, Vince Lombardi), took time out of his precious summer vacation on Friday to say a few nice words at The Union League about someone most of us knew and loved, Wayne Hardin. (Owls’ TV really needs to put that celebration of life on YouTube so that it can reach a much wider audience.)

As much as Bill Belichick is the Gold Standard of NFL head coaches, that what Temple was lucky enough to have in Wayne Hardin. Belichick studied Hardin closely as a kid, then more as an adult and took copious notes on how Hardin attacked opponents. When Belichick was an assistant coach with the New York Giants, he sat in the stands of the Garden State Bowl and marveled how Hardin attacked California in a 28-17 win.

Those who watch Belichick’s teams can see a lot of Hardin in Belichick and it is a beautiful living tribute to the greatest head coach in Temple history.

Hardin will forever be The Gold Standard as far as Temple head coaches are concerned. He was not only the most successful, but also the most loyal. Despite being the only coach to ever have Temple FINISH in the Top 20, he remained for 13 years.  Think about it: Two great schools, Navy and Temple, have only finished in the Top 20 under one head coach. Those were both schools that coaches have to overcome significant hardships to achieve. For Hardin at Navy, it was no scholarships and a five-year military commitment. For Hardin at Temple, it was moving from one level to another despite not having the facilities of the major Eastern powers he faced. There was also the issue of loyalty. How many future Temple coaches will turn down a higher paying job as a football coach in Texas to remain at Temple? Hardin did when Tom Landry offered him the offensive coordinator job with the Dallas Cowboys.

If Lurie wanted to see what a real Gold Standard was all about, living or passed, all he needed to do was venture out of his office and make his way a couple miles North up to the Union League on Friday.

Not surprisingly, Lurie–ironically from Boston–declined the educational experience. His loss, but he must be used to that four-letter word by now.

Wednesday: Beginner’s Luck