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Learning that special something

By SCOTT PURKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000


TAMPA -- Joe Marciano went to Temple University and quickly learned that the whole world wasn't Italian and that coach Wayne Hardin was a football mastermind.

Marciano says he was blessed on both counts while he was at the school from 1972-75.

"You have to understand that I came from this small town (Dunmore, Pa.), and everybody in my neighborhood was Italian," he said. "We also never left town for vacations because we never had any money. So when I went to Temple, it was a culture shock because I was exposed to so many different types of people and new things at once.

"It was also the first time I ever spent any time around a black person. We didn't have any black players on our high school team, and we didn't play against any teams who had black players.

"But you know what? I never thought twice about being around black players. I just walked right in there at Temple and had a locker next to a black guy, and I showered next to black guys, and it was just like we were all a bunch of football players.

"I remember the first day of practice, I took center snaps, and the center was a black guy. And I just thought of him as another football player."

Temple's coach was another story.

Marciano said Hardin, who coached two Heisman Trophy winners at Navy (Joe Bellino in 1960 and Roger Staubach in 1963), was a hard man, but he quickly added, "(Hardin) was fair and extremely talented with X's and O's and with quarterbacks (Marciano's position)."

"Hardin was a master at finding the opponent's weaknesses," Marciano said. "He would have been the great offensive coordinator in the National Football League, where he could just concentrate on football."

Hardin, who retired from football in 1983 and still lives in Pennsylvania, described Marciano as a great student of the game.

"Joe may not have played a lot (largely because of a knee injury), but I think he got a lot out of his experience with us," Hardin said. "He was the type of guy who had camaraderie with the players and yet still got a lot of respect from them."

That's why when Marciano missed his senior year with a knee injury, Hardin made him an assistant coach for Temple's freshman team.

Then in 1982, seven years after Marciano graduated from Temple and had worked at several other colleges, Hardin brought his old player back to coach Temple's special teams.

"Wayne pointed out to me that special teams coaches were going to become more of a commodity," Marciano said. "He said receivers and running back coaches were a dime a dozen and that I could probably go places as a special teams coach.

"Once again, Wayne Hardin was right on the money."

Marciano has been a professional special teams coach since 1984, the past five for the Bucs.

Q: When did you realize what professional career you would pursue?

A: I knew I wanted to coach ever since I was in sixth grade. It happened when I saw Ted Kwalick play tight end at Penn State. I never met Ted Kwalick, but he made a couple of great plays in a row in a big game. So I got the program and looked him up, and they had a little bio next to his name. And it said his goal was to play or coach in professional football. And it hit me that that is what I wanted to do. And that's what I've wanted to do ever since. I should probably thank Ted Kwalick for getting me started in my profession.

SUPER BOWL VII

Jan. 14, 1973

Los Angeles

Dolphins 14, Redskins 7

MVP: Jake Scott, Dolphins safety (two interceptions; the second is in the fourth quarter in the end zone and returned 55 yards).

IN THE NEWS: The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Roe vs. Wade that abortion is a woman's fundamental right under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Jan. 27: The Vietnam War ends with the signing of peace pacts. April 30: President Nixon accepts responsibility, but not blame, for the Watergate scandal. Aug. 15: The U.S. bombing of Cambodia ends, halting 12 years of combat in Southeast Asia. Oct. 10: Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns. Nov. 11: Egypt and Israel sign a U.S.-sponsored cease-fire accord.

BEST PICTURE OSCAR: The Godfather

MUSIC OF THE MOMENT: Let's Get It On/Marvin Gaye

EVERYBODY'S WATCHING: M*A*S*H

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