This is the time of year Bruce Hardy loved.
His first love was always baseball. He led Bingham High to two 3A baseball titles, 1973-74. And also a Utah State American Legion baseball championship in 1974. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles.
"I was afraid of getting lost in the farm system," Hardy pointed out. "The money wasn't like it is now even for the minor-league players. I might have been able to wedge more money from the Orioles, like Drew Hanson is doing with the Yankees. But I thought by playing football, it would be a shorter time period involved than to make it to the major leagues. That's why I went to Arizona State to play football, and I was promised that I could play baseball, too.
"But that didn't work out," added Hardy. "I played for a while, but Frank Kush (the ASU football coach) didn't want me to. He wanted me to concentrate on football, which I did." But Kush disappointed Hardy, who was named the Prep Athlete Of The Year by Sports Illustrated, April 25, 1974. He recruited Hardy to be a quarterback, but had him convert to tight end after his freshman year. "It was a major disappointment for me," said Hardy. "I could've sulked for my remaining three years on the bench. But I didn't. I had to prove to Kush that I could adapt to the change.
"Kush was actually right in what he did, but I sure didn't think so at the time. I don't think I would've made it in the NFL as a quarterback. When I came out of high school, I weighed 210 pounds. Within a year, I was 230 pounds. There weren't any 230-pound quarterbacks back then in the NFL." So, at ASU, Hardy and John Jefferson combined to be the best receiving combination in the Western Athletic Conference. Jefferson and Hardy made some all-American teams, and of course, All-WAC teams. His freshman year, Hardy played on an undefeated ASU team that ended up being ranked No. 1 by The Sporting News. Jefferson was drafted by the San Diego Chargers, and Bruce was drafted by the Miami Dolphins. He went on to to start in two Super Bowl games, 1983 against Washington and 1985 against San Francisco. He played for 12 years with the Dolphins and still owns some of the team's all-time tight-end receiving records. But what Hardy was noted for was his ability to carry out his blocking assignments.
Hardy has been inducted in to the State Of Utah Basketball Hall Of Fame and the Utah Sports Hall Of Fame. Don't forget he also led Bingham High to two 3A basketball championships under George Sluga, 1973 and 1974.
After he ended his NFL career, Hardy became a coach. He assisted his friend, Don Strock, a former Dolphin quarterback, with the Arena Football League's Mass Marauders; Danny White, with Arizona's AFL team, which won two championships; and he was head coach of the Florida Bobcats. He also assisted Dixie State College coach Greg Croshaw.
WHAT WERE HIS GREATEST MEMORIES? "There were a lot of memories I would like to forget," smiled Hardy. "Even though, I played for two Miami Super Bowl teams, those memories weren't great, because we lost. Don't get me wrong. He was great for me to participate in the hype and hoopla of those games. But I like to win. That's why those four championships that we won at Bingham High are so special. Now, that might sound corny. But I still cherish them. And I really respected my coaches, too.
"Working with Danny White, and Don Strock in the AFL, was great for me, too. The AFL is so completely different than any other football league. It's so fast-paced. I learned an awful lot working with White and Strock. They really helped out my coaching career."
WHAT IS HE DOING NOW? "Right now, Strock and I are in a start-up mode with Florida International University here in Miami," said Hardy. "We recruited and signed 30 players in February. Now, those players will redshirt their freshman year and we have a schedule in place to start our first season in 2002. It's fun to start from scratch to build this program. But that doesn't mean we don't have some headaches. But there are a lot of great athletes in Florida that get overlooked by the larger schools, like Miami, Florida State and Florida. Those are the type of players we're looking for." Hardy is the associate head coach and offensive coordinator. "I'm doing something now that I should've done at ASU, and that's getting my college degree," explained Hardy. "That's become a big thing for me. I have always been disappointed that I didn't get it before." He still maintains an 11 handicap in golf. "I've been so busy that I haven't been able to golf as much as I would like," added Hardy, who once fashioned an eight handicap. And he still takes time to get involved with his sons, Nathan, Adam, Aaron and Matthew.