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When playing Temple, pray
Ray Kennedy
October 28, 1974
Persuading local heroes to stay home, the Owls' Wayne Hardin built a power that has dropped opponents to their knees 13 straight times
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October 28, 1974

When Playing Temple, Pray

Persuading local heroes to stay home, the Owls' Wayne Hardin built a power that has dropped opponents to their knees 13 straight times

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Others, raised in the city proper, discovered that small-town college life, where the main diversion is going to the town square and looking at the cannon, did not make it. Linebacker Rich Taber, who lasted all of two weeks at West Virginia, says of Morgantown, "There was nothing, I mean nothing, out there. You couldn't even go to the corner for a beer." Tight End Jeff Stempel never even made it to Pittsburgh. "When they didn't come through on their promise of a summer job," he says, "I decided I didn't have to live up to my commitment, either." Tackle Joe Judge spent one lovelorn year at VPI before caving in. "Well," he says, digging his size 12s into the turf, "there was this girl back home and, well, you know...."

Among the most welcomed—and the most chagrined—defectors was the once-jaded Joachim. "I had dreams of being an All-America," he says, "but as soon as I got to Penn State they switched to a running attack, using sprint-outs and options—things I don't do very well. When I wasn't starting in my second year I decided to go back where I could play right away."

Poor Holy Cross could not stop Temple's rampaging transfers from moving in any direction last week. Harris, an explosive, shot-from-a-gun type of runner, took off on one 45-yard tear, and Jerry Conicello, late of Syracuse, added another that was good for 36. Stempel and P.J. Calin, a renegade receiver from Michigan, accounted for a total of five receptions and three touchdowns. Taber picked off an interception while Judge buttressed the defensive line.

The day, however, and all those impressive numbers that place him among the national leaders in total offense, belonged to Joachim. A strapping 6'4" and 217 pounds, he fended off Holy Cross's all-out blitzes like a Roman Gabriel among Pop Warner leaguers. Two of his five touchdown passes were launched while he was being pulled to the ground. Another time, with Crusaders hanging on all available appendages, he delivered a long lateral left-handed. "Once again," said an elated Hardin, "Steve proved beyond all shadow of a doubt that he's the best in the country."

Certainly there is a happy communion between this quarterback who says, "Basically I'm a flinger," and this coach whose avowed philosophy is "Throw it!" Temple's free-for-all attack is reminiscent of the early 1960s when Hardin's Navy teams, paced by such dazzlers as Roger Staubach and Joe Bellino, finished as high as No. 2 and No. 4 in the national rankings.

Though possessed by all kinds of door-die spirit these days, the Owls are not yet aspiring to such giddy heights. If, however, they can get by the formidable likes of Delaware, Pittsburgh and West Virginia in the coming weeks they will undoubtedly merit Top 20 ranking and a bowl bid, which would please Hardin no end.

There have been some uncertain years since he was eased out of his Navy post in 1964 in a squabble over administrative duties. Hardin, who spent one season with the Philadelphia Bulldogs of the old Continental League and two years selling trailer hitches in Lodi, Calif. before coming to Temple, insists that coaching a team that until three years ago was listed in the small college division is "in no way a comedown."

An emotional man, his eyes well up with tears when he talks about his boyhood and "the debt I owe athletics. I like to think that we help kids. What difference does it make at what level you play? Everybody I know has a big-time program in their hearts."

Though he says, "Now that we're winning, the better players will come to us in the first place," he still holds in reserve another inspirational message called "Acres of Diamonds," a tale made famous by the founder of Temple. Hardin begins by showing the face of a watch with the tiny letters OWLS surrounded by...diamonds? "Ah, yes, diamonds," he says, cuing himself for the story about a Persian farmer who searches the world for gems only to die destitute a few days before acres of precious stones are discovered on his own land.

"The point is," says Hardin, "whatever you're looking for is right in your own backyard." If the Owls keep winning, there soon may be some people in the backyards of Philadelphia who will believe that even if acres of diamonds do not surround the Temple campus, there really is no ghetto out there.

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