Wayne Hardin has a dream.
It's Friday night, Aug. 31. Temple, where he coached for 13 seasons, is opening the football season against Navy, where he coached before that for 6 years.
And the Linc is standing-room only.
"There's 33,000 people dressed in cherry and white, and 33,000 in blue and gold," he said. "And I get to sit on each side for a half. Like the president. And we get to watch a great game."
It's called "Mission Possible.'' And the College Football Hall of Fame candidate was at the Owls' practice yesterday to officially kick off the campaign, in conjunction with a student barbecue at the Edberg-Olson Hall complex.
The game will be televised on ESPNU. But Hardin wants people to see it live. Lots and lots of people.
"It all started when I went to a game last year, which I very seldom do, like most people," he explained. "Never been a spectator. Temple won the game. Broke a 20-game losing streak. I looked around and nobody was there. I asked, 'What comes first, the chicken or the egg?' I sat on it for 3 days. Finally, I called [Temple athletic director] Bill Bradshaw and told him I was willing to commit [to getting] 66,000 people for the first game. When they told me [the opponent] was Navy I said, 'Well, you just cut my job in half.'
"I've always depended on my players to bail me out. I hope they'll bail me out on this one, too. I know the Naval Academy. They'll bring 20 to 30 [thousand] without any problem. Temple's got 34,000 students. And 10,000 or so live on campus or nearby. There's no reason for them not to be there. You go for the college spirit. They can be part of history. I know Temple's not noted for drawing, but it's time the image changed. To me, this is a way to start."
Roger Staubach and Joe Bellino, Heisman Trophy winners Hardin coached at Navy, will be part of the coin toss. And a Temple student is going to win free tuition for a semester, as one did yesterday.
"You have to give people incentive," the 81-year-old Hardin said. "It is a big challenge. But if I had kids in school, their rear ends would belong to me if they didn't go . . . A lot of people think I've lost it. I'm not sure I ever had it, whatever it is.
"Students have to realize what they're missing. And Temple has how many alums? How about faculty? They should be willing to commit themselves. The excuse I hear is, 'Oh they don't win.' Or is it the other way around? Maybe [the team doesn't] win because they don't go. Maybe we'll find out."