Former Ceres High School coach Irving Wayne Hardin, who went on to become a nationally recognized college football coach, died April 12 in Abington, Pa., after suffering a massive stroke. He was 91.
"He didn't mess around," remembered Kenny Leuenhagen, a 1953 graduate of Ceres High School. "I mean, he came to coach. He came out of COP and was only about eight years older than the rest of us."
Bob Earl, another 1953 graduate of Ceres High remembers Hardin "being a real mentor to a lot of kids."
"What I remember is he was more than just a coach."
Harden served as the head football coach at the U.S. Naval Academy from 1959 to 1964 and at Temple University from 1970 to 1982, compiling a career college football record 118-74-5. Hardin led the Navy to appearances in the 1961 Orange Bowl and the 1964 Cotton Bowl Classic, and coached two midshipmen to the Heisman Trophy - Joe Bellino in 1960 and Roger Staubach in 1963.
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 quarterback Staubach.
After leaving as the Navy coach, Hardin coached the Philadelphia Bulldogs of the Continental Football League, leading the team to a championship in 1966.
Hardin was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2013.
Hardin was born in Smackover, Ark., to Blanche and Wayne Hardin on March 23, 1926 and attended high school in Stockton. He played college football at the College of the Pacific under Hall of Fame coach Amos Alonzo Stagg and successor Larry Siemering. Hardin himself won 11 varsity letters in college before graduating in 1950. He was inducted into the College of the Pacific's Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.
After serving as a student assistant coach in 1949 at Pacific, Hardin began his professional coaching career in 1950, coaching football and basketball at Ceres High School.
Hardin returned to his alma mater in 1952 as the backfield coach under Ernie Jorge. He then moved on to Porterville Community College where in two seasons as head football coach, 1952 and 1953, he tallied a mark of 9-8.
In 1955, Hardin was hired as an assistant football coach at the U.S. Naval Academy under Eddie Erdelatz.
From 1959 to 1964, Hardin was the head coach at Navy, where he compiled a 38-22-2 record. His Navy teams posted five consecutive wins against archrival Army, a feat not surpassed until 2007 when Paul Johnson's Navy squad won their sixth consecutive contest in the Army-Navy Game.
Hardin was the head coach at Temple from 1970 to 1982, where he compiled an 80-50-3 record. His 80 wins are the most in school history. Hardin coached numerous future professional players at Temple including New York Jets defensive lineman Joe Klecko, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Randy Grossman, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Kevin Ross, San Diego Chargers linebacker Bill Singletary, and New York Jets quarterback Steve Joachim, who won the Maxwell Award in 1974 playing for the Owls. Under Hardin, Temple's school-record 14-game winning streak over two seasons from 1973 into 1974 was the longest Division I winning streak at the time.
Hardin's 1979 squad was the most successful in Temple football's history. The team went 10-2 and finished the season ranked #17 in both major polls, the only Temple team to finish a campaign ranked. The 1979 team concluded their season with a victory in the 1979 Garden State Bowl over heavily favored Cal. Temple did not return to a bowl game until the 2009 season.
Hardin's career college record was 118-74-5.
Hardin also spent time as a color commentator for CBS Sports for the Baltimore Colts.
His marriage to the former Patricia Bell ended in divorce. His second wife, Jane McCausland, passed away a few years ago. He leaves behind daughter Sheri Hardin, sons Gary, Greg and Richard Hardin, and five grandchildren.