Hardin is frank on only one subject: his own secretive nature. "See," Hardin says, "I don't want anybody to know me. I don't want anybody to know what I think. The less they know about me, the less they know about my teams."
The person whom Hardin wants less known than himself is Roger Staubach. The Navy quarterback has emerged as the glamour player of 1963. His Saturday feats (101 completions for 1,375 yards and seven touchdowns, and eight other touchdowns running) and the national attention he has drawn are almost more than Annapolis can stand.
For weeks the academy has had a ban on Staubach interviews, hiding behind the excuse that a midshipman's routine does not permit them. Says L. B. (Budd) Thalman, the Navy publicity man, whose job is made easier by the ban: "We decided before the season that this kid was going to be in the spotlight and that if we allowed writers and photographers in here all of the time he would have none of the small amount of free time that a midshipman has to himself. So we put the pressure on ourselves."
"More people would like to see Roger Staubach right now than any celebrity," Hardin says, seriously. "If we opened the doors, do you have any idea how many writers and photographers would show up at our practice? A dozen? It would be closer to 5,000."
There have been times when not even that many tacklers could have chased Staubach down. The 6-foot-2, 196-pound second classman from Cincinnati is truly a dazzling athlete. With long, powerful strides, Staubach rolls out with deceptive speed. He throws on the run, or backing up. Trapped, he has a startling quickness and a mysterious sense of the profitable direction.
And it is when Staubach gets into trouble that he is at his very best. Never easy to pull down, he throws with tacklers tearing off pieces of his jersey or clawing at his legs, or he runs. With a cluster of fine receivers like Ends Jim Campbell, Dave Sjuggerud, Neil Henderson and Halfback Skip Orr and the running of Pat Donnelly and Johnny Sai to take the pressure off his passing, Staubach and Navy have weapons to throw away. He is, in the final sense, that splendid combination of runner-passer who can invest every play with unbearable excitement.
Off the field, Roger Staubach is a soft-eyed, high-cheekboned, brown-haired, handsome, devout midshipman who attends Mass almost every morning. His smile is honest and he is unmilitarily gracious. He looks something like a young movie star whose name you cannot quite remember. His father is a salesman, and his mother keeps a scrap-book. Back home there is the usual childhood sweetheart, Marinna Hobbler, who is a nurse. A product of Cincinnati's highly developed Catholic Youth Organization, Staubach grew up in organized sport. "From the time he was able to sit up," says his mother, "he was an active child." Staubach's roots are still in Cincinnati, and he looks forward to the Christmas holidays, when he can relax and play touch football with his old high school teammates.
Wayne Hardin says Staubach will be a career Navy man. If so, he has just made the decision this year. After the Army game of 1962 he was asked about pro football. "It depends on how much I like the Navy," he said then. "I'll make up my mind in the next two years. I would like to try it."
Now Staubach feels—or, rather, the Navy feels—that the remark was unfortunate. And the publicity office is quick to provide a quote that reads, "I'm not here to play football. I owe a lot to the Naval Academy for giving me a wonderful four-year education. If I decide to make the Navy my career I'll try to keep in touch with football in some capacity."
Actually, Staubach could thank the Navy for a wonderful five-year education, for, like 23 other players on the current roster, he attended another school for one year before he entered the Naval Academy. Staubach went to New Mexico Military Institute, it is said with the help of an organization that is known as the Naval Academy Foundation, which also sends potential midshipmen to Colombian and Bullis prep schools. ( NCAA rules have permitted one midshipman, Guard Fred Marlin, to enjoy a curious history. In 1958 Marlin played for Western Maryland. In 1959 he was in the Navy. In 1960 he played for the Naval Academy Prep School. In 1961 he played on the Navy's plebe team. In 1962 he was a sophomore. He has another season of eligibility, and by then he will be 24 years old.)